Omaha metro school districts required to detail parental involvement policies

State and federal law require public schools to outline their policies regarding communication with parents and students.
Published: Jul. 11, 2022 at 10:22 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Federal law requires public schools to outline their policies regarding communication with parents and students.

Commonly known as the Title I Parent and Family Engagement Policy, it’s part of the No Child Left Behind Act, which reauthorizes funding for schools under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

That includes annual open hearings, such as the one held before the start of Monday’s Papillion La Vista Community Schools (PLCS) board meeting.

”The purpose of the hearing is to allow parents, students, and members of the public an opportunity to provide input,” PLCS director of secondary human resources Dr. Trent Steele said at the start of two such hearings, Parental Involvement, and Wellness.

We’re told the previous year, no one spoke. This year, only one person provided input during public comments in Papillion. And parent Brittany Holtmeyer is on the November ballot to become a board member at PLCS.

”Many of the parents were unaware of the parental involvement hearing tonight,” Holtmeyer said from the public comments podium.

Despite regular internet postings of agendas and board business, information disconnect is a common complaint at school board meetings everywhere.

Closing that communication gap is critical to PLCS board president Brian Lodes.

“It’s essential to us as decision makers to engage with our communities and our families to know what new ideas to they have, what changes can we make, what are we doing well, what are we not doing well,” Lodes said in an interview prior to the meeting.

Lodes said real success comes when parents take part in what’s available to them at the district level beyond attending the school board meetings.

“We want parents involved, plain and simple, and we have lots of parents involved,” Lodes said. “And we continually ask for more parent help at the school level as well as district related matters, whether its bond issues and getting community feedback that way, all the way down to just simply helping out with the PTO to generate some positive things to give teachers.”

Omaha Public Schools, Millard Public Schools, and Elkhorn Public Schools also post their parent and family engagement policies online. It’s part of the No Child Left Behind Act, which reauthorized funding for schools under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Hearings like Monday’s in Papillion are state policy and required by federal law, but each district chooses when to hold them.

PLCS usually holds their parental involvement meeting and the public discussion that goes along with it, before their July school board meeting.

It’s recommended that the public keep an eye on their local school board agendas and announcements online to know when the meetings are scheduled for their districts.

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