Parent Handbook

Student & Family Handbook


Forest School Mission Statement

Portland Forest School of the Pacific Northwest (PFS) is an independent outdoor school of community and nature restoration and conservation whose K-8 students journey into native forests, savannas, wetlands, coastal beaches, and mountain meadows every day to facilitate their learning and application of Oregon State Standards. Their knowledge and practice is rooted in an interdisciplinary, project-based, differentiated curriculum for all to excel in not only academic learning gains but also social-emotional intelligence’s.

Beyond nature play, PFS students live intimately each season by foraging for wild foods, designing and building forest tools, shelters, and crafts. They grow with the land, plants, and animals that share our world and will become the leaders of their generations applying their PFS lessons and experiences to sustain and further nature restoration and conservation. Their will to care for nature in all its forms will be intrinsic and rooted in self-assurance and resiliency.

Forest School Goals

Foster Academic Achievement 

  • Portland Forest School will combine an innovative, challenging, and engaging curriculum with outdoor teaching methods to develop the student as a whole. 
  • We will create a rich and engaging outdoor experiences, combined with the Oregon Common Core Curriculum, to create a challenging and stimulating environment for students to thrive.
  • Some standardized assessments will be administered as a measurement tool to ensure students are meeting or exceeding Oregon standards. These results can be provided to parents if they so wish. 

Foster Connection to the More than Human World

  • We engage students in a constant dialogue towards understanding the complex web of relationships that exist in the natural world.  
  • Students learn to be accountable members of their local and global biotic community

Village Mindset- Students  

  • We encourage a foundation of social growth and emotional development. Students will be guided in respect for others, self-reliance, self-care, self-motivation, and stewardship of group health.
  • In collaboration with their teacher, students will set their own goals, manage their time, and take responsibility for their learning. 
  • Students will practice stewardship by taking responsibility for their classroom, gear and outdoor environment. 

Statement of inclusiveness

Portland Forest School of the Pacific Northwest is a community built on the strength of our diversity, the passion of our individuals, and our relationship with the more than human world. We believe strongly that a mix of diverse ideas, viewpoints, experiences, and values is needed for our community to grow and thrive. All positions, programs, courses, and sites are open to people of all histories, backgrounds, genders, identities, and abilities. Portland Forest School of the Pacific Northwest does not discriminate based on race, color, national origin, sex, gender identity, orientation, religion, or ability. 

Forest School Directory 

School/ Office 

2800 SE Harrison St

Portland, OR 97214

Please use this number to report absences, illness, or tardies. 

Office Hours are 8:15 am to 4:00 pm on days class is in session.   



Operations and Attendance  

School Hours of Operation

  • Regular school hours are 8:15 am to 3:15 pm, Monday through Friday
  • Office Hours are 8:00 am to 4:00 pm on days class is in session  
  • Do not call or text your student during school hours, please contact the office.

School Day

  • Classes begin promptly at 8:30 am, doors open at 8:15 am .
    • To ensure a good start and continuity with their class community, we strongly encourage all families to prioritize their morning so their student(s) may arrive at school on time.  
    • Before school our teachers are busy readying for the school day.  Please respect this time they need in order to prepare for your children. 
    • During preparation time between 8:00 and 8:15 am, teachers are not available for conference without previous arrangements unless an emergency has occurred
    • If you are running late, please contact the office so we can let you know if you should meet our class in the main building or out on site.
  • Students not in class by 8:30 am are considered tardy, and will be marked as such.   More than five tardies will result in a phone call home. Students often leave the building in the morning to travel to their forest learning environments. Late arrival may mean delivering your student to their forest site for that day. 
  • Students will remain on school grounds or within the designated bounds of an outdoor learning environment during school hours. 
  • Students should not be on school grounds after 3:15pm unless enrolled in our aftercare program or participating in an authorized after school activity.
    • Students still at school, after 3:30 will be sent to the office and have their guardians called for pick up.  
    • If you are running late, please contact the office with your alternate arrangements.

Tardy/Absence Policy

  • Daily attendance has a strong effect on student learning. 
  • Students are expected to attend school unless prevented by illness or family emergency.
    • Parents are asked to inform the school office of a student absence in advance, and as soon as possible.  This can be done by calling the office, emailing, or notifying classroom teacher ahead of time. 
  • Chronic absences and/or tardies will be reviewed and a family consultation with the teacher and/or administrators may be required for the student to continue in the program.

Releasing Students During School Hours

  • In order to protect the student’s work time, we ask that you avoid pulling your children early from school when possible. Please give teachers and/or the office one days’ notice, by email or phone, to release your child early from school.  Due to being in the field, we often cannot arrange early pickup in-town.
  • When dropping off or picking up early in the field, be prepared to walk to meet the group so that a lesson does not have to stop, nor a teacher be removed from the group. 

Adverse Weather and Emergency Closures

In the event of inclement weather or other emergency that requires school closure, parents will be notified as soon as possible. The office voicemail contains up to date information and an email will be sent to families when a late start or closure decision is made.

If snow starts falling after students arrive and on the rare occasion we close mid-day, you will receive a phone call to come pick up your student. 

Note: Portland Forest School does not follow the plan made by Portland School District as to whether school will be in session, late start, or closed; we make our own determination as to whether or not to hold classes during inclement weather.  If a late start is called we will re-evaluate at 8am based on road safety and e-mail families if we decide that day long closure is necessary

Parent Expectations 

Portland Forest School holds parents and guardians to the same high standards of behavior and conduct to which we hold our students. We are a village and we seek to create a positive, safe, and respectful environment for all involved. 

  • Communicate with respect, honesty, and integrity.
    • Offensive or profane language, harassment, disruptive or bullying behaviors, threatening behavior, verbal abuse, or physical violence will not be tolerated. 
  • Complete registration, forms, and pay school fees on time. 
  • Attend all required parent-teacher conferences. This is the best way to understand your child’s progress in school.
  • Know and abide by and support the school’s policies, as outlined in this handbook and elsewhere available for parents’ review.
  • Respect the privacy of staff, children, and families within the organization as appropriate. 
  • When you have questions, comments, or concerns, please share them with staff members. 

Student Expectations and how families can help

Students are exposed to a wide variety of experiences in a safe, consistent social environment designed to prepare them for life in the greater world. 

  • Students are expected to come to school with all of their appropriate tools and gear for  indoor and outdoor learning, ready to participate in the days lessons.  Families help to make sure that their student is prepared with needed clothing, food supplies and adequate sleep. .
  • Students are expected to be present and on time to school, every day.  Barring emergencies or medical issues, families should make sure that their student has the most opportunity to learn and grow. We expect families to support our teachers by scheduling doctor’s appointments outside of school hours and vacations during school breaks if possible.  
  • Students are expected to actively participate in class work and complete any homework.  Class work and projects form the basis of our evaluations and grades.  Families can help by helping their student to keep track of due dates and projects.
  • Upper grade students are responsible for work assigned or due when absent or making arrangements with their teachers.  Families can help by reminding students to contact their teacher to arrange for a missed work packet.
  • Students are expected to behave safely, honestly, and with kindness and respect to their fellow students, teachers, tools and spaces.  Students are accountable for their own actions and consequences. Families can help by reviewing our discipline policy and serious conduct violations with their student.

Children must be fully toilet trained (no diapers or pull-ups). There are no exceptions to this rule. 

Student Behavior:

  • Approach new experiences with positivity and openness 
  • Reach out to your teachers if you need support or have a question
  • Keep an open mind to others’ feedback and challenge yourself with new opportunities
  • Celebrate successes of both you and your peers! 

Student Belongings: 

Students are allowed to bring personal belongings to school if they have a clear educational purpose. The teacher may still choose what is appropriate and will ask students to put away distracting items. 

  • Please mark all personal items with the student’s name and search through the lost and found for any items that do not return home in a timely manner. 
  • Lost and found items that remain for more than two weeks will be donated to a charity. 

Student Rights & Responsibilities: 

Portland Forest School expects the highest standards of behavior from our students and staff that cultivates inclusiveness and respect. The Forest School curriculum includes positive community development and fosters stewardship of the wider world. Students are expected to participate in this stewardship by helping to maintain a clean and orderly classroom while following the leave-no-trace guidelines when outdoors. Additionally:

  • All students have the right to pursue their curiosities, interests, and passions with the responsibility to demonstrate what they have learned.
  • All students have the right to learn in a way that works best for them with the responsibility to learn in a way that is safe, non-disruptive and productive.
  • All students have the right to have their beliefs and feelings respected with the responsibility to respect the beliefs and feelings of others.
  • All students have the right to be listened to with the responsibility to listen to others.
  • All students have the right to build community in a safe space with the responsibility to act accordingly in that space.

Riding the Bus

Buses are integral to the Forest School day, they transport students to the outdoor learning environments each day. Riding the bus is a responsibility that must be treated with respect and all of the expectations of the classroom apply to the bus. We require students to make good behavior choices while on the bus and parents can be of great support toward instilling positive behaviors. While on the bus, students are expected to: 

  • Sit with their bottoms on the bus seat, facing forward, respectfully keeping their bodies to themselves for the duration of bus travel
  • All appendages and belongings stay inside the bus
  • Treat the bus driver with respect, complying with their requests and directives
  • Care for the property of the bus
  • Manage their own belongings
  • Report any problems to the bus driver or a teacher

Health and Safety

Gear and Attire

  • Students need to wear outdoor and weather appropriate attire as we go out in all conditions (rain, snow, or shine!).
    • A change of dry clothes in a plastic bag on particularly wet days is encouraged. 
  • Sturdy outdoor shoes are recommended. 
  • A day pack that fits your child and is convenient to carry.
  • Writing utensils and any notebooks or equipment required by your teacher.

Food and Water

  • Students need to bring a morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack each day. Students eat more in an outdoor setting than when sitting in a classroom environment.  
  • Water bottles are required to be filled and are refilled throughout the day. 

When to Stay Home

Children who show signs of illness should not be in school. This is for your child’s health as well as that of the other children and families in our school community. A child should not come to school if they have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Fever over 100 degrees. Your child should be free of fever for at least 24 hours before returning to school
  • Diarrhea (more than one abnormally loose stools per day)
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Severe cough/ cold symptoms (excess mucus, sneezing, coughing, runny eyes)
  • Skin or eye lesions or rashes that are severe, weeping, or pus-filled

If your child contracts a contagious condition such as chicken pox, measles, pinworms, lice, impetigo, pink eye, etc., report it to the school immediately so that other families may be alerted to possible exposure. No mention will be made of the child or family’s name in any notification.

If a child becomes ill at school, the parents will be contacted. If the parent cannot be reached, the child will remain at school until the parent is contacted.  


Student may bring prescribed medication or over-the-counter medication with written authorization. Students requiring medication are requested to take all doses at home, if possible. Prescription medication must be in original containers including prescription label attached and only the amount to be given at school in the container. Over-the-counter medications should also be in their original containers, labeled clearly with the child’s name, date and dosage.

Accidents and Injuries

If a student is involved in an accident or in some way gets injured while at school, steps will be taken appropriate to the level of injury.  All Portland Forest School staff are required to be CPR/First Aid certified and are qualified to deal with minor injuries. Parents will be informed as quickly as possible of any injury, and an incident report will be completed. At the discretion of the staff dealing with the emergency, 911 will be called or other appropriate emergency services will be contacted.

School-Home Communication

Registration/Emergency Contact

Parents are responsible for updating contact information during the year, including emergency contacts as your information changes. 

A school-wide directories of student contact information are provided to each family early in the school year. This is done to facilitate friendships and contact between students and families as part of a supportive community. Families are given the option at the beginning of the year to list, or opt out of listing, the information they wish to have published in the student directory. Other detailed contact information is kept confidential in the school office.

Parent/Staff Communication

We strive to provide families with clear communication throughout the year. You are welcome to email staff directly with any questions, comments, or concerns throughout the year. 

If you feel that you need more information than you are receiving, please speak to the teacher directly. Because teachers dedicate their time from 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. to the students in their class, we ask you to make an appointment when you wish to speak with the teacher at length. Email is the best way of making appointments or getting answers to quick questions. If you feel you need assistance communicating with a teacher, please contact the administration.

If direct or immediate communication is necessary, please call the main office and the office can deliver that message. If necessary, your child’s teacher will return your call at their earliest convenience. 

Parent Teacher Conferences

Parent-Teacher conferences are scheduled three times a year; fall, winter, and spring. These meetings will occur on in-service days and parents are asked to find alternate care for their students during the meeting time if in-person, virtual meetings are an option.  Teachers may also call parent meetings throughout the year.

Progress Reports

Standard and proficiency based progress reports are provided three times a year along with parent-teacher conferences. 

Privacy Policy

Student Records 

Parents and legal guardians have access to their child’s academic records as maintained by the school. Student files contain grade records, teacher evaluations, state testing records, and accident/injury and incident reports. This information will not be released to anyone other than parents or legal guardians, administrators, and the student’s current teachers. If you would like to see the contents of your child’s school file, please make an appointment with an administrator. The administrator will advise you of your specific rights regarding individual pieces of information at the time you view the file. 


Students are sometimes photographed by teachers and other staff for classroom and school use. Photographs may be used on the school website and in school publications. Families wishing not to have their child photographed or wishing to exclude their child’s photograph from specific uses may update this information by sending an email to the office.

Technology Policy 

The school will provide the technology needed during the day for academic use, students will not have access to personal electronics during school hours. Student cell phones, tablets, or electronics will be kept by their teacher during school hours unless given specific permission by their teacher.  Phones should be turned off or in Airplane mode.

  • Portland Forest School is not responsible for any lost and/or damaged cell phones or electronics either unreported (or reported) by student or parent. 
  • Portland Forest School staff will be responsible for communicating directly with parents in the case of an emergency. To support attention during class time, refrain from calling or texting your student during school hours.

Discipline Policy 

See Discipline section of updated Parent Handbook


We recognize that students come from a variety of backgrounds and all have different needs.  Our ability to make accommodations to our behavioral expectations is based on whether those accommodations allow us to meet the above priorities. Depending on our ability to make accommodations within that framework, Trackers Forest School may decide that the student’s interests will be served better in a learning environment different from the one the Forest School can offer.

Our behavior progression 

  1. Setting expectations clearly and early. This allows students to know what the limits are and engage with questions before the activity even begins.
  2. Redirect to purposeful activity. If the behavior persists, have a private conversation and problem-solve with students.
  3. Set clear guidelines, and make agreements with student about their behavior; this includes agreeing on potential consequences/outcomes for different choices as well as a clear timeline for improvement.
  4. Check in with student on progress periodically.
  5. If the behavior persists in a situation where these steps have been followed and we are still facing behavioral challenges, we will schedule a longer sit-down, possibly including a school administrator and would now focus on our escalated behavioral interventions. 

For more defined outlines of what these steps look like for different grades please see our upper and lower grade supplements.

First Intervention

When a student does not respond to redirection or continues to demonstrate the same problematic behaviors for safety or social situations, we will have a three way conversation between parents, teacher and student.  Our goal in this conversation is to identify the behavior that is causing a disruption in the group, and to make an agreement with the student about expectations we have for being present in the program. This conversation may include steps that we can take to help them meet expectations, as well as ways that they are going to adjust behavior so they can continue to participate.  

  • If the student is unable or unwilling to make an agreement or understand their behaviors’ impact, depending on the impact of their behaviors this may escalate to the next intervention. 

If a student poses a danger or threat to themselves, other students or our staff, their parent(s) will be asked to do a pick up in the field. Depending on behavior, this may be followed by an additional meeting with staff.

Second level of Intervention:

Student misses a day of class.  This may be called for when student continues to demonstrate unsafe or disruptive behaviors despite parent conversations.  This will also happen if a student cannot follow agreements made with parents and teacher(s).  

  • When students return they must be able to articulate how they are going to follow our guidelines for safety and participation.  Example: “I should not have run away into the forest. When I am frustrated I will take space where you can see me.”

Third level of Intervention

If after a multiple suspensions from school the student continues to exhibit behaviors that would result in further disciplinary actions (see above) the school reserves the right to expel students from the Forest School to maintain the integrity and safety of our programs. Depending on the severity of behavior, the student the student may be asked to not return to any Forest School programs.

Serious Misconduct

Some types of behavior violate our schools code of acting respectfully within the school community as well as to our spaces and tools.  Serious misconduct will be immediately accelerated to an Intervention. Some examples of serious misconduct include but are not limited to: 

  • Physical or emotional harm including abusive/ bullying language or intentional violence
  • Messages either in person or electronically meant to harass or intimidate
  • Racial, ethnic, or religious harassment
  • Sexual harassment or any harassment or unwanted attention regarding any person’s identified or perceived sex, orientation, gender or presentation
  • Vandalizing the school or its property
  • Stealing or intentionally damaging another’s property
  • Violating rules related to academic honesty, responsibility and safety that have been communicated to students orally or in writing 
  • Lying to a member of the staff or administration 
  • Intentional damage to technology present at school

Academic Standards

Academic difficulties and Learning Progress

Through progress reports, parent teacher conferences and other communication The Forest School will make sure that families stay up to date with students levels of academic progress.  If teachers or families feel that a student is falling behind the class in subject comprehension we will work with families to help identify student needs.

  • Teachers may offer after school additional instruction in subject matter at their convenience
  • If the student is more than one grade level behind in a given subject we may request that the family seeks outside tutoring in that subject
    • Depending on the students needs and ability continued attendance may be dependent on continued outside tutoring.
  • If Teachers at the Forest School think that your student may need additional assistance in multiple subjects we will work with families to get outside learning evaluations so we can better support them.  In some cases such evaluations may be required for your child to continue with our program.
    • Depending on student needs Portland Forest School may decide that the student’s interests will be served better in a learning environment different from the one the School can offer. 

Failure to Meet Academic Standards 

We use evaluations to help us measure student progress, but daily work and projects form the basis for evaluating student achievement.  Students consistently missing work will still be evaluated for grade advancement based on the evidence of subject mastery they have provided in completed projects and assignments. If through lack of participation or dearth of completed work students are unable to show competency of grade level materials they may be denied advancement to the next grade of the Portland Forest School.  If students wish to continue at the school they may either: 

  • Repeat the same grade with passing levels of work completion and completed projects and evaluations that show comprehension of grade level work
  • Receive summer tutoring at family’s expense in incomplete subjects and have a written letter from their tutors that they have demonstrated competence in subjects.

Academic Integrity

At Portland Forest School we expect student work to be original using the student’s own words and data.  Academic dishonesty is an intentional act of deception where a student seeks to claim credit for the work of another person. This includes the intentional or unintentional use of unauthorized, misappropriated or fabricated material in any academic work. 

Academic dishonesty includes: 

  • Cheating or claiming another’s work as one’s own, or unauthorized copying on a test or assignment.  
  • Plagiarism, which is representing the words or ideas of someone else as your own, such as copying another person’s work without appropriate references; presenting someone else’s opinions and theories as your own.  

Academic discipline

For the first instance of Academic dishonesty the test or assignment receives a non-passing grade. Depending on the severity of the infraction or the significance of the assignment, teachers may ask that the work or evaluation be re-taken or re-written but may not  receive a higher than passing grade. The student also moves to the first intervention. If there is a second instance of academic dishonesty, the student will be more interventions and depending on severity suspension or expulsion are options. 

Student Community

Parent Volunteer Opportunities

A school is a community of families, and a strong community engages all its members.  Portland Forest School invites families to contribute and volunteer in ways that fit your schedule.  While we do not require a specific amount of volunteer hours, there will be opportunities to help out, including:

  • Family Council 
  • Setting up before, planning, organizing and cleaning up after school events
  • Accompanying the class on special field trips
  • Coming into the class to share important events in your family (introducing a new sibling, talking about a cultural celebration or holiday your family observes, sharing your work or passions with our students)
  • Helping table at school fairs

Keep an eye out for emailed invitations to help out in the classroom or with other school tasks.  You can also always let us know if there is any area in which you are particularly excited to volunteer.

Parent association

Our Parent association works with administration and teachers to build a strong community.  They host events throughout the year and also help with volunteering in the classes, and fundraising for Forest School scholarships.

Student Clubs 

Student clubs are a great way for students to practice leadership and make friends across grades and classes.  Students are free to form clubs and organizations provided that the clubs meet basic guidelines:

  • Have written a clear goal or purpose statement. An example would be chess club writing a statement explaining that they will be playing chess.
  • Have a teacher sponsor that agrees to be in the building during the clubs defined meeting times
  • Abide by Forest Schools behavior and inclusion policies

Clubs may hand out fliers for their events before or after school.  Clubs may be able to use trackers materials with their Teacher sponsor’s permission and supervision.

Special Student Events

Overnight trips

The middle school grades do one overnight weekend.  Teachers will be sending home information about the dates and times of these overnights. The overnights are not optional for the upper grades. These trips are a great opportunity for students to work and learn as a team and supplement their curriculum.

Family Events

In addition, we have a variety of school community events through the year and we are very excited to continue to offer more chances to socialize as we build our community.