While much of the advocacy behind helping a child on an IEP is done at in-person  meetings, it is important for parents to know that there is also a paper file on record that may be used in the event of a Due Process case. School records contain more than just academic information about your child. Care must be taken to avoid unfavorable information from becoming a part of your child’s record.

Don’t be combative. There is a difference between being a strong, yet respectful advocate for your child and a combative parent who tries to intimidate the rest of the team. You don’t want the school to document that they were unable to work effectively with you because of …you.

Same Topic + Same People =Same Result. Some parents find themselves in a cycle of repeatedly requesting IEP meeting after IEP meeting to resolve an ongoing issue, only to find they always end up with the same, ineffective result. This can lead to frustration and the flaring of tempers. Know when it is time to ask for help.

“The 24 hour email rule”.  Avoid the temptation of sending an email to school staff when you are angry or emotional. Everything you send the school is kept in a file and can work against your favor and that of your child. A better practice is to write your letter, save it and wait a day before looking it over. At that point, there is a good chance that you’ll want to make some changes to your email and write a more effective (and less emotional) letter. Remember to keep your emails brief and to the point

If it’s written, it happened. Any emails, meeting minutes or any written notices that have incorrect, missing or misleading information should not be ignored as they will become part of the school record. Consider sending an email to explain the incorrect information and what the necessary correction should be, adding that your request should be added to your child’s record. Keep a record of your email.

You can request a review of your child’s records.

By law, the school needs to grant parents access to the records no more than 45 days after request. It is recommended that the request be done in writing. Upon review of the files, if any information appears to be misleading, incorrect or missing,  know that you have a right to request that an amendment to the documents be made.