Parents barred from field trips, classrooms at one Shelby County - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Parents barred from field trips, classrooms at one Shelby County School?

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Parents are a critical part of a school's success. Some parents are being put out of field trips and classrooms at one Shelby County grade school.

District leadership tell ABC 33/40 the new procedures were put in place to address concerns regarding school safety, particularly since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Parents Dan and Debbie Bethers say they understand the importance of safety, but they want to be informed as to why certain changes have been made.

"It caught me off guard because, if my child was part of that group which they weren't, I would have liked the opportunity to be with them," Dan Bethers says.

A Shelby County school spokesperson says the district is simply reviewing ways to make field trips safer. Administrators do not plan to make the current practice a routine. Also, it's typical procedure of all schools to not allow parents to observe a classroom setting.

They also released the following information to ABC 33/40:

· Parent concerns were shared with the local school administration regarding the safety of the facility back in the fall. New procedures were put in place to address concerns regarding school safety, particularly since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary.

· Parents have since voiced concerns about the new procedures, specifically with not feeling welcome in the building and not serving as chaperones on field trips.

· On recent field trips, staff members were used to chaperone the students in lieu of parent volunteers. This was not an attempt to replace parental involvement, but an opportunity to review and discuss how to make field trip procedures safer for all students. As part of the process to involve more teachers, substitute teachers were utilized. This learning opportunity for the staff will not become a routine event to be put into practice.

· Central office administration is working with Dr. Scarbrough to review current procedures and address concerns. The district has a 5 point plan for security measures for all schools and will be sure this is being implemented at Valley Elementary.

· The PTO at Valley Elementary School has a history of being hardworking and integral in the leadership of the school. Although this organization has not been as active this spring as it has been in the past, it has not been disbanded. A newsletter dated April 18 stated the nominating committee would be sending election ballots this month and would notify parents with the names of the new officers prior to the end of the school year.

· The protection of instructional time is of utmost importance. It is a typical procedure of all schools to not allow parents to observe in the classroom setting. Parents are welcomed to assist with special projects, events, or activities as specified by the teacher(s).

· Parental involvement is appreciated in all of our schools as we realize the value of this partnership. Information will be communicated to parents today to share about how some of these concerns have been addressed.

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