Is your child struggling with their development within their educational environment and you’re realizing that he/she might need assistance? You’ve decided that it’s time to reach out to the school for support, but have no clue what to ask or who to ask. The first step is to write a formal written request to your child’s school.
Special thanks to Collaborative Corner and their help in providing this resource.
The first step in asking for help is gathering evidence of your child’s struggles. This “evidence” can include:
- Graded in-class work
- Homework struggles
- Teacher feedback
- Standardized testing results
- Behavioral struggles
- Transition difficulties
- Difficulties staying on task
- Social awareness and interaction
- Developmental struggles/delays
- Speech-language skills or difficulties
- Handwriting skills or difficulties
- Reading comprehension
- Any additional documentation that shows that your child is not meeting grade level expectations
- RTI (response to intervention) or MTSS (multi-tiered system of support) progress monitoring
I Have Gathered the Information. Now What?
There is typically a chain of command in making requests to help your child in the school environment, but the first step is to begin by speaking with your child’s teacher. The teacher may suggest submitting your request for help to the principal or guidance counselor. At times, guidance counselors and teachers are aware of a child that is struggling and they have already begun the process of MTSS (Multi-Teared System of Support) in which children are currently being monitored. However, this is not always the case. As the expert on your child, you often can see your child’s struggle before anyone else. Begin with contacting your child’s teacher with your concerns via email or written letter. After contacting your child’s teacher, a formal written notice of your request for intervention should be sent to the school principal. The school principal is solely responsible for ensuring that your child is receiving a free appropriate public education.
How to Compose the Formal Written Request (Letter)
The first step is composing a formal letter to the school principal. There are many online resources that provide sample letters that are available to download. You can find one sample template here. If you would like one of our IEP specialists to assist you in composing a formal written letter to your child’s school, click here and here.
If you choose to compose your own letter, be sure your letter includes the following information:
- Your child’s full name, school, and date of birth.
- The specific academic and behavior areas you’re concerned about, including a summary of any evidence you have collected.
- Attach any clinical evaluations that have been completed for your child and medical diagnosis letters you have received from a doctor.
- Speech-Language evaluation
- Occupational therapy evaluation
- Neuropsychology evaluation
- Vision testing
- Physician letters
- A statement of what you are specifically asking for. For example, “I am requesting a meeting to determine if my child is eligible for a 504 plan or to begin the IEP process.”
- Your signature, contact information, and date you signed it.
- Place your letter in an envelope with the recipient’s name on it.
- Attaching your letter to an email directed to the Principal also serves as a written request and is generally preferred for tracking purposes
*It is important to note that the main goal of a formal written letter to request a 504 plan or IEP is to show that your child’s education is being negatively affected by their medical diagnosis or your area(s) of concern.
I Submitted the Formal Written Request. What’s Next?
After submitting your written request, allow a reasonable amount of time for the school to respond (a general time frame is 3 business days). When the school responds, it is likely that they will want to schedule a meeting with you to discuss the first step(s) in the intervention process.
What Should I Expect in the First Meeting with the School?
You should expect the school to discuss the possibility of writing a 504 plan (click here to learn more about 504 plans) or to begin the process of writing an IEP for your child (click here to learn more about the Individualized Education Plan).
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s academic or behavioral development, please contact our licensed school psychologist, here.
If you are interested in receiving assistance with writing a formal written notice to your child’s school, please contact us here.
Jessica Barisano, IEP and Parent Advocate, Parent of an Exceptional Child
Founder of Collaborative Corner for Exceptional Children