Q: Can a parent request a particular teacher for their child because they like that teacher or because they want their child in a particular class with their friends?
A: Yes, under TEC 26.003(a)(2) a parent may make a request that their child be in a certain teacher’s classroom for the upcoming school year; however, that request is not required to be granted if there is a reasonable justification for denying the request.
As a general proposition, Chapter 26 of the Texas Education Code (commonly referred to as the Parental Rights Chapter) strongly encourages, and in some places mandates, parental involvement. Section 26.001 states that “Parents are partners with educators, administrators, and school district boards of trustees in their children’s education” and parental involvement and participation in the education process “shall be encouraged.” Applicable to the specific question posed is Section 26.003(a)(2), which states that parents are entitled to access to the appropriate administrator at a school to make a request to reassign the student to a different class or teacher. However, the parent is not entitled to having that request granted if the reassignment would affect another student’s assignment. To the extent a parent might grieve an administrator’s denial of a particular assignment request, the Education Code provides that a school board’s decision on an assignment issue is final. Practically, this means that a parent is entitled to speak to whomever has the ability to change their child’s schedule, and request that a change be made. The District may consider classroom makeup and whether the change would affect another student’s assignment when deciding whether to grant the parent’s request. If the request reaches the District Board of Trustees, any decision it makes is final and cannot be appealed to the Commissioner.
TEC Chapter 26 entitles parents to additional rights and responsibilities. Generally, Section 26.003 addresses parental rights concerning the academic programs the parent’s child will have access to. Parental rights under Section 26.003 include:
The right to petition a board of trustees regarding which school in the district the parent’s child will attend
The right to allow a parent’s child who graduates early to participate in graduation ceremonies at the time the child graduates
The right to request the addition of a specific academic class within the required curriculum, if economically practical
The right to request that the parent’s child be allowed to attend classes above the child’s grade level, unless the board expects the child cannot meet the academic expectations, and
The right that the parent’s child be allowed to graduate early from high school so long as the child completes the required courses for graduation. Section 26.003(a)(3) provides that the board must not “unreasonably deny” a request under this section.
Additional parental rights under TEC Chapter 26 include:
the right to enroll the parent’s child in a virtual school network under Chapter 30A
access to the parent’s child’s student records and to full information concerning the parent’s student
the right to require consent for certain activities, such as psychological examination, videotaping or voice recording of the child (except for safety purposes), among others
access to teaching materials and tests (after the tests are administered) distributed to their child
the right to remove the parent’s child from a class or school activity that conflicts with the parent’s religious or moral beliefs
the right to information concerning special education and education of students with learning difficulties
the right to supplemental educational services
access to state assessments (except as provided by TEC Section 29.023(e))
access to board meetings
the right to complain using the District’s grievance process
the right to request public information under Public Information Act, and
the right to student directory information, if such information is designated, in accordance with FERPA
School districts should keep these parental rights in mind as the school year begins, and remember that parental involvement is not only acceptable, it is statutorily encouraged. Documentation of these efforts, when applicable, is strongly advised.