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Request for Clear Procedures that Encourage Parent Communication and Involvement in School Life

Resolution Number: 2010-01
Submitted by: Prince Street Home and School Association

WHEREAS schools in Prince Edward Island have been taking additional measures to secure school properties and protect students and staff – requiring photo identification for staff and installing video surveillance equipment, for example; and

WHEREAS these measures may have the unintended side-effect of creating additional barriers, real or perceived, to parent engagement in the life of the school; and

WHEREAS these measures aside, there are already steps that could be taken to better educate parents on procedures by which they can communicate with schools and participate actively in school activities; and

WHEREAS it's important that parents feel that their participation in the life of the school is always welcomed and encouraged;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the PEIHSF request that School Boards establish consistent, clear procedures for communicating to parents that will be adopted by all schools in the province; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the PEIHSF request that the school boards adopt a standard communications template for school hand-books and/or other existing communication materials to provide consistent, clear messages/information for parents, that include but are not limited to the following:

  1. That parents are encouraged to participate in the life of the school as active partners in their child's education.
  2. Procedures to be followed when visiting the school and their child's classroom (is an appointment required? is signing-in required? and so on).
  3. How to contact the principal of the school (telephone number and hours available, email address, etc.).
  4. How to contact classroom and resource teachers (telephone number and hours available, email address, etc.).
  5. How to request a meeting with the principal, teacher(s) and/or other staff, along with a strong indication that this is an opportunity available to parents at any time.
  6. Routes available to parents for resolving issues that cannot be resolved at the local school level with the principal.
  7. Types of resources at the school that are available to parents (school library, computer facilities, resource room, etc.) and procedures for access.
  8. Opportunities for parents to volunteer their time and resources at the school.

Status: Passed
Saturday, April 17, 2010

Destination:Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
English Language School Board
French Language School Board

Education and Early Childhood Development:  Last Spring, I instructed my deptuy, Dr. Alex (Sandy) MacDonald to discuss this point with Superintendents at an Educational Leadership Team Meeting and I will ask him to follow up once again at the next meeting to be held later this month to ensure that boards address your request.  It is my understanding that boards have been discussing this among themselves as well.

Eastern School District:  The Eastern School Dristrict agrees that taking the necessary steps to protect our students and staff has resulted in protocols that some visitors to schools, including parents, may perceive as barriers.  The intent of video surveillance, photo identification, ID visitor tags, and one entrance access is to make our schools safer for all.  The unintendced result or perception is that our schools may now be more visitor/parent "unfriendly". 

The Eastern School District welcomes and values parent involvement as active partners in all schools.  School staffs are continuously engageing and working with parents to make each child's educational experience a positive one.  Schools presently have websites, newsletters, Tell Them From Me Parent surveys, Student's Achieve, School Councils or Home and School organizations, Meet The Teacher nights, information sessions and many other ways to foster communication with parents.  However, with the above recent changes, we do see the value in working iwth the Western School Board in creating a meaningful set of guidelines and procedures so that parents have consistent, clear messages in terms of accessing school or Board personnel. 

The Eastern School District and the Western School Board have been in contact and have agreed to meet in the near future to discuss and address the concerns expressed in Resolution 1.

Western School Board:  Prodedures for developing and implementing school communications with parents are the responsibility of individual schools so as to respond to local needs and circumstances.  Whether it be a school handbook, a regular newsletter, a web page, the establishment of Parent Councils/Home & School Associations or the opportunities for individual parents as partners in the delivery of educational services to children, each school undertakes to establish its own processes and vehicles for promoting effective two-way communication with its parents and local community. 

In our opinion, this delegation of authority and autonomy to each school has worked well in our schools and thus we do not see a need for establishing "system" protocols.  I would note that we do have a Board protocol for addressing issues identified by parents with repect to our schools or personnel that would see parents first approaching the classroom teacher and, if no resoution, the principal, the Director responsible for that school, the Superintendent, and, if still unresolved, the Board. 

As a Board, we initiated a formal dialogue in October 2009 with Home & School/Parent Council representatives invited from every school to attend a "sharing" session with provincila HSF reps, principals, trustees, and Senior Management staff.  This session proved very successful in allowing joint discussions of a number of relevant topics of mutual interest with our parent community and we are looking forward to this Saturday session becoming an annual event within our Board with tentative plans for the next session – Talking & Sharing Too – scheduled for December 4, 2010.  We also have trustees who annually attend the H&S AGM as well as a  number who attend local association meetings (ususally upon request of the specific association).  Similarly, members of our Senior Management team have been invited to local H&S meetings and this is a welcome opportunity to share views and have discussions with parents.