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 your child’s educational records.
The IDEA (the nation’s special education law) gives you the right to look at all of your child’s education records. This includes records about:
- his or her identification as a child with a disability,
- educational placement, and
- special education program.
You also have the right to ask the school to explain and interpret the records for you. You may ask the school to give you a copy of your child’s records. They may charge you a reasonable fee for making a copy (but not for retrieving the records). More details are available online at NICHCY: http://nichcy.org/schoolage/parental-rights/records
What might be some reasons to request copies of my child’s school records?
School records contain valuable information about your child’s strengths and areas of need. These records can provide a formal way of communicating between the professionals at your child’s school, you, and other professionals who may work with your child. Here are some reasons you might have for requesting a copy of your child’s records:
Reviewing records lets you be sure that the records are correct and contain all necessary information.
When your family is moving to a new school district, records may need to be sent.
When you’re taking your child for an independent evaluation, copies of past records may be useful.
The records may help the staff at other programs your child attends (like camp, tutors, or in-hospital schools) design their activities.
Postsecondary programs may need to see copies of your child’s records.
It’s a good idea to have a copy for your home files, especially if your child is finishing school.
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 the Person to whom You’re Writing
City, State, Zip Code
Dear (person’s name),
I am writing to schedule a time to come and review all of my child’s records. My son/daughter, (child’s name), is in the (___) grade at (name of school), in (teacher’s name) class. I will also need copies of some or all of these records.
Please let me know where and when I can come in to see the records. I need these records by (date). You can reach me during the day at (give your phone number).
I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you for your assistance.
Would you like to read another letter?
Discussing a problem
Requesting a copy of your child’s records (you’re already here)
Requesting an evaluation for special education services
Requesting an independent evaluation
Requesting a meeting to review your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP)
Requesting a change in your child’s placement
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