Sixteen Rights Parents May Not Know They Have


Last Updated on November 29, 2022 by Michelle Ball

By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995

What are your rights as a California public school parent? California Education Code section 51101 has a handy list of some public school parents’ rights for use when push comes to shove in California schools.  

Some of these rights may come as a surprise to parents who are being denied a simple parent-teacher conference, can’t get student records, are denied parent volunteer opportunities, were never given the school policies, or are having other difficulties in the public school environment.

Public school parent student rights
An unexercised parent right is worthless, so it is important parents stand up for their rights!

Parent Rights Under California Education Code 51101

Section 51101 of the Education Codes affords the following rights to California public school parents (this is an abbreviated list and is paraphrased):

1)  To be mutually supportive and respectful partnerswith the school.
2)  Within a reasonable time to observe their child’s current classroom(s) and/or future classrooms if transferring.
3)  To meet with the teacher(s) or principal within a reasonable time of their request.
4)  To volunteer in the school or classroom, under supervision of school employees and with approval of the teacher (if volunteering in the classroom).
parent rights in public schools, the right to inspect textbooks

Have you reviewed the textbooks students are using? 

5)  To be notified if their child is absent on a timely basis.

6)  To receive the results of standardized and statewide tests.
7)  To request a particular school and receive a response.
8)  To have a safe environment supportive of learning.
9)  To examine curriculum materials of their child’s classes.
10)  To be informed of their child’s progress and whom the parent should contact if there are problems.
11)  To access their child’s school records (see also Education Code 49069.7 which requires provision within 5 business days).
12)  To be provided with data regarding skills and standards the student is to meet.
13)  To be informed in advance of school rules, including discipline rules and procedures, attendance policies, dress codes, and procedures for visiting the school.
14)  To be informed regarding any psychological testing the school does and to refuse the testing.
15)  To participate in parent advisory committees, school site councils, or site-based management leadership teams.
16)  To question anything in the student’s records with which they disagree.

This is not an exhaustive list of every right parents may have, but it is a start. Knowing these rights, can help a parent to assert themselves when they know they or student are being wronged at their local public school.

Now, parents, did you know you had all these rights????  Now go out and use them.

Student education lawyer Michelle Ball is located in Sacramento California and helps parents exercise their rights when schools won’t listen to them. Parent attorney Michelle Ball assists parents throughout California, including in Elk Grove, Roseville, Modesto, Ceres, Riverside, Chico, and in many other locations.

[Originally published 9/2/11]

2 thoughts on “Sixteen Rights Parents May Not Know They Have”

  1. Hi Michelle! I happened upon your blog today. Here's my dilemma, and I really hope that you can help.

    My children are assigned to a school in our district. The school does not have enough room for my children even though they are assigned to this school. So, the district is trying to find space at 3 other schools in the district which they are claiming are also full because they have too many students attending that live outside the district. Their words, not mine. I am o.k. with this, but the school will not guarantee that both of my children can attend the same school. They are claiming that they both (1st and 3rd grade) may have to attend at different schools. This is my only request. I feel powerless, and because the schools are dismissed at the same time, this would put a hardship on me to be able to pick them up or drop them off on time. Please help!

  2. Unknown says:

    Does the school have the right to completely switch a students schedule around and change three of his teachers without even consulting with the parents first and then never notify them at all? Wouldnt that go against the parents right to be involved?

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