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What Does the School Secretary Do?

At most schools, the secretary is a key player in communicating with parents and community members about what's happening at school.

By GreatSchools Staff

The school secretary is an important person to know at your child's school. He or she takes care of administrative details, schedules appointments and handles school communication. The school secretary is aware of what's going on at the school on a day-to-day basis. This makes him or her an excellent source of information for parents.

The school secretary is the person you'll call about such things as registration, bus schedules, school lunches, after-school programs and immunization requirements. You should call the school secretary when your child will be absent, unless the school has a telephone recording device for this purpose. At some schools you'll contact the secretary to set up appointments to talk with the principal or your child's teacher.

An elementary school usually has just one school secretary who may very well do everything from calling a parent about a sick child to posting notices for a school meeting. Large middle schools and high schools, on the other hand, are likely to have several secretaries, or administrative assistants, with different areas of responsibilities. In this case, try to be as specific as possible regarding the person you want to speak to or the concern you want to address.

Keep in mind that the school secretary is usually busiest at the start and end of each day and at the start and end of each school year. Calling at less busy times will likely get you a more helpful response.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

05/14/2012:
"wow!!!!! tomarrow is my career day and this is really helplful.. "
12/19/2011:
"well,i think this is great.as a parent and also as a director of administration in a school,its of utmost importance that we follow the instructions here.i really appreciate you people for a well done job.God bless you. "
12/7/2011:
"what kind of degree does the school secretary need to become one. im looking at goin to a university on business addministration and want to know if it will help "
11/16/2011:
"Im working as a secretary, and i found GreatSchool interesting because every dairly work i normaly do i use to get more information from them. Thanks for being there may you continue giving such great information "
05/8/2009:
"A medically unlicensed secretary should not be acting as a school nurse, or even administering first aid. Doing so is putting yourself at risk of being sued - personally. The school insurance will not cover you, no matter what they say. We negotiated this into our first contract when we organized. As a result, the school health offices are now covered by an LPN, an RN, or a certified school nurse whenever school is in session."
04/2/2009:
"I am a secretary and my hands are tied when I have to assist a student medically because of OSHA. 3/12/09 commented that she does the duties of a nurse in case of emergencies. I'm not allowed to treat a student with a splinter, which is considered as an accident. All I can do is put on a band-aid and send the little one whose in pain back to class in case the parent is not available to come and take it out themselves. I don't worry about lawsuits, I worry about the parents who come to the school with a 'what for' to us because we did not treat their child as in loco parentis. The district RN, and the principal with RN permission, is the only one, I was told, that was allowed to treat a student outside the parent - and all are not always available. That puts us secretaries in a pinch, and we are the first ones the parents hit the ceiling on!"
03/12/2009:
"'Let's not leave out the same duties of a nurse. Including caring for students with diabetes, seizures, severe allergies, asthma. Bet you didn't know we also have to be ready to administer a Diastat rectal suppository to a student having a seizure. And did I mention urinalysis for diabetic students with high sugar? Not to mention overseeing the daily care of the diabetic student. I probably should also mention Care Plans for students and all the paperwork that we process regarding health issues. At the school where I work, there are 650 students and I have health issues, to some extent, on over 80 kids. Secretaries are not just key players in communication, they take care of the whole school. They also put themselves at a huge liability risk dealing with the kids with health issues. I really care about the kids, which is what makes me feel good about coming to work each day. But I admit, I worry about lawsuits. I'd say communication is the easiest part of being a sc! hool secretary.'"
12/3/2008:
"really good information."
10/21/2008:
"My question, does a secretary have the right to discipline students, especially during their lunch?"
02/17/2005:
"I am a school secretary in an elementary school and I liked the article. I agree with most of it and I want parents to know that due to cut backs in school budgets the secretary has alot more work to do than before. Our school has almost 600 children and only 2 secretaries. We have both been here a long time and like our job but hope that parents realize that sometimes we can be very stressed out due to the volume of our work and appreciate it when parents are as polite to us as they want us to be to them."
09/4/2004:
"I am a school secretary at a K-8 school in Detroit, MI. I am always busy, however, I do understand the importance of the parents so I always try my best to accomodate them and help out in any way possible. Parents who are rude and inconsiderate of my time are by biggest peeve. I always have a million things to do with virtually no assistance so I appreciate those parents, and staff who are considerate of my time and appreciate my efforts. That is what makes my job worthwhile. "
07/1/2004:
"I agree fully with the above comments. My biggest problem is parents who insist on running after their children and not making them responsible for their own actions. While they run after their child they expect me to as well. Sorry, it's not in my job description to do this. Otherwise I have a wonderful job that I really enjoy and have done so for the past 13 years. "
03/29/2004:
"I agree with the article fully. As a secretary I am very busy during the mornings and afternoons. It becomes frustrating when parents call the school daily for petty messages. They don't realize it's a school and sometimes hard to actually to speak to their child. Overall I enjoy the relationships that I have developed with the parent. "
10/10/2003:
"This article was absolutely correct. The Middle school that my son attends is a good school and I view the head secretary as literally the glue that holds the school together. I have been able to avoid discomfort and misunderstandings simply by making that 3:00 call to the head secretary of my son's school "
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