Unfortunately, the teacher may legally have to face the parents alone. In Thrower v. Arlington, a teacher felt that a conference with a parent had turned negative. She asked to leave the conference and to return when she had her representative with her. Her request was denied. She chose to leave, anyway. As a result, she was reprimanded by the Arlington ISD.
The TEA Hearing Officer’s decision upheld the reprimand, stating that the parent-teacher conference did not involve an investigation of her professional ability. Therefore, she had no need for the protection afforded by a representative. The conference involved confidential information concerning the student. The student’s right to privacy would prohibit the involvement of a representative in such a non-investigatory setting. Additionally, an earlier decision of the Commissioner of Education held that a teacher has no right to representation outside the formal grievance proceeding. Therefore, neither Mrs. Thrower, nor any other teacher, has a right to legal representation during a parent-teacher conference.
Quick Tips For Parent Conferences:
- Do not apologize for bothering the parent.
- Do not minimize the problems.
- Do not belittle your abilities.
- Do not downgrade the consequences of the child’s behavior.
- Do not hold a conference if not prepared.
- Do not discuss a student in front of other students or parents.
- Do not discuss a student in the middle of class.