Resolving Problems with Your Child’s School

  1. Before speaking or meeting with school staff, organize all documents needed for your child such as evaluations (medical and school), IEP’s, progress reports, etc.

  2. Talk with your child’s teacher, either by phone or, if possible, in person. Find out if the teacher sees the same problems you do, and if the teacher can think of any changes in the classroom that might help. Are all services on your child’s IEP being provided? Are there certain subjects or times of day that seem particularly hard for your youngster in class? Are the teaching strategies working for your child? Is more help needed? Are there ways you can help by working with your child at home?

  3. Research your concerns by talking with other parents, searching the web for disability web sites and call or contact Educational Advocacy for the Inclusion of Youth to talk over your situation and/or request an advocate to meet to discuss your concerns.

  4. Write to the school principal to request to reopen your child’s IEP. Keep a copy of the letter for yourself. School officials must contact you and schedule the IEP within a reasonable time from receiving your letter.Take a friend, neighbor or advocate with you to the IEP, if possible. At the IEP, you should:

    • Discuss your concerns for your child and your view of the situation.

    • Review your child’s current IEP and ask about his or her progress in reaching IEP goals and objectives.

    • Find out if others agree with your concerns and if they know how to correct the problems.

    • If no one seems to have the answers, perhaps your child needs to be re-evaluated. For example, an instructional evaluation may help find out how your child learns, or a functional behavior assessment might show what changes are needed to the positive behavior support program. Remember, all needed evaluations must be done without cost to you and within 60 days of signing the permission to evaluate.

    If evaluations will be needed, work out a prompt schedule with school officials, and a date to meet again to review the evaluation results and make necessary changes to the program.

  5. If your child is not getting the services listed on the IEP, or if the school district does not comply with timelines or procedures, you should FILE A COMPLAINT with the State’s Bureau of Special Education. Send them a letter explaining your concerns. The state has 60 days to investigate and resolve the complaint.Send your complaint to:Bureau of Special Education

    333 Market Street
    Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333

  6. If you cannot reach agreement with school officials, or have already had several meetings, you can request MEDIATION. Mediation is voluntary on the part of parents and school districts, but can often be quite helpful. A trained, impartial person is assigned by the state to meet with both sides to help find a resolution. Attorneys are not permitted in mediations.For information, contact the Special Education Mediation Service at 800-992-4334.

  7. If Mediation has not worked, or if you do not want to use it, request a DUE PROCESS HEARING by writing to the principal with a copy to the superintendent. Your request must include your reasons for asking for the hearing, and your proposed solution to the problem. At the Hearing, you will have a chance to explain your child’s situation to an impartial Hearing Officer. The Hearing Officer then makes a written decision. The hearing decision can be appealed in federal court.