From our series of model letters…because sometimes
you need to communicate with the school
about your child’s education.
3rd edition, January 2011
This short publication comes from a much longer Parent’s Guide that focuses on communicating with your child’s school via letter writing. There are times when you, as a parent, may want to communicate in writing with your child’s school about some problem or concern with your child’s education or well-being. Because the Parent’s Guide is so long, NICHCY decided it would be more convenient to our readers if each of the letters discussed in the guide was also available separately, to make reading and printing individual letters easier.
This page presents a model letter or email you might write the school to request that your child’s placement be changed.
Placement means where your child’s IEP is carried out. Depending on your child’s needs, his or her placement may be in the general education classroom, in a special education classroom, in a special school, in your home, in a hospital or institution, or in another setting. IDEA strongly prefers placement in the general education classroom, but does not mandate it.
Placement is based on the IEP. Therefore, when you request a change in placement, you are actually requesting an IEP review to discuss your child’s needs and where those needs are met.
Why might I ask for a change in my child’s placement?
You might want to request a change in your child’s placement if you feel that your child’s needs are not being met appropriately. For example, you may become concerned about your child’s placement after reviewing your child’s progress reports; reviewing the results of any state, district-wide, or alternate assessments your child has been given; talking with your child’s teacher or other service providers; or talking with your child.
Placement concerns might also include:
- changes in your child’s needs;
- current class size is too large or too small;
- current class is too academic or not academic enough;
- the placement does not meet your child’s social or emotional needs;
- the building is too difficult for your child to get around; or
- any other reason that this class placement is not working out successfully.
More information about placement, especially the principles of “least restrictive environment,” is available online at NICHCY: http://nichcy.org/schoolage/placement/
General letter-writing tips
When writing any business letter, it is important to keep it short and to the point. First, start by asking yourself the following questions and state the answers in your letter:
- Why am I writing?
- What are my specific concerns?
- What are my questions?
- What would I like the person to do about this situation?
- What sort of response do I want: a letter, a meeting, a phone call, or something else?
Each letter you write should include the following basic information:
- Put the date on your letter.
- Give your child’s full name and the name of your child’s main teacher or current class placement.
- Say what you want, rather than what you don’t want. Keep it simple.
- Give your address and a daytime phone number where you can be reached.
- Always end your letter with a “thank you.”
What are some other tips to keep in mind?
You want to make a good impression so that the person reading your letter will understand your request and say “yes.” Remember, this person may not know you, your child, or your child’s situation. Keep the tone of your letter pleasant and businesslike. Give the facts without letting anger, frustration, blame, or other negative emotions creep in. Some letter-writing tips include:
- After you write your first draft, put the letter aside for a day or two. Then look at it again and revise it with fresh eyes.
- Read your letter as though you are the person receiving it. Is your request clear? Have you included the important facts? Does your letter ramble on and on? Is it likely to offend, or is the tone businesslike?
- Have someone else read your letter for you. Is your reason for writing clear? Can the reader tell what you are asking for? Would the reader say “yes” if he or she received this letter? Can your letter be improved?
- Use spell check and grammar check on the computer. Or ask someone reliable to edit your letter before you send it.
- Keep a copy for your records.
Today’s Date (include month, day, and year)
City, State, Zip Code
Daytime telephone number
Name of Principal or Special Education Administrator
Name of School
City, State, Zip Code
Dear (Principal’s or Administrator’s name),
I am writing to request a meeting to discuss a change in placement for my son/daughter, (child’s name). He/she is currently in the (___) grade in (teacher’s name) class. I feel he/she needs to be in (name of alternative, if you know; otherwise describe the type of placement you feel is more appropriate for your child, such as your neighborhood school, a center-based program, general education class, or special class).
I am most concerned about (keep this paragraph brief and mention your child’s unmet needs, not problems with individual people).
I would also like to have (name of teacher(s) and/or any specialists you would like from the current and/or requested placement) attend this meeting.
I can arrange to meet with the rest of the IEP team on (days) between (give a range of time, such as between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.). Please let me know what time would be best.
I look forward to hearing from you soon. My daytime telephone number is (give your phone number). Thank you for your time.
cc: your child’s principal (if letter is addressed to an administrator)
your child’s teacher(s)
specialists or other staff
Note: The “cc:” at the bottom of the letter means you are sending a copy of your letter to the people listed after the cc.
Would you like to read another letter?
Discussing a problem
Requesting a copy of your child’s records
Requesting an evaluation for special education services
Requesting an independent evaluation
Requesting a meeting to review your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP)
Informing the school that you intend to place your child in a private school at public expense
Requesting prior written notice
Requesting mediation to resolve a conflict
Requesting a due process hearing to resolve a conflict
Filing a complaint with the State to resolve a conflict