Even if you feel passionate about your right to dispute, there is still a way in which you are to go about it. Simply filing a complaint will not be enough if you have not crossed all your T's and dotted your I's.
- Make sure that you have followed the correct hierarchy. This means that you (1) Spoke with the regular education and special education teachers about your concerns, (2) You communicated with the school principal or other administrator. (3) You reached out to your local EC program manager/administrator at the central office or district level.
- Everything should be in writing. Send emails as often as possible to establish a paper trail. Even if you speak to an individual by phone, follow up with an email re-establishing your talking points and the outcomes of the phone conversation. An follow up email would be: Thank you Ms. Madison for talking to me today about Timmy's struggles in math. I'm looking forward to you working with him on his addition and subtraction in a small group environment. Please send me any data that you collect regarding his progress in this area so that I can support him at home.
- Remain as composed as possible, even if you have developed a total dislike for your child's teachers and the school. Emotions tend to run high whenever parents are angry about their children, especially when it comes to special education. You will be able to accomplish more if you keep a cool head and make decisions based on outcomes from any meetings or conversations that take place.
- When you prepare to write a complaint, be specific about your concerns/ Instead of saying Ms. Madison is a bad teacher, you should state what she did or did NOT do. Ex: Ms. Madison failed to provide the small group instruction that we discussed in our meeting even though my son continued to receive failing grades in her class. I emailed the special education, asking her to provide strategies for Ms. Madison to use, but never received a response. I emailed the principal asking for him to intervene, at which time he stated that he would get right on it. I asked to see any progress monitoring data that has been collected for Timmy but, to date, none has been supplied.
- Consult with an advocate or legal expert to make sure that you have covered all possible avenues.
Remember, you are your child's best advocate. If you truly feel that he or she is not getting the appropriate education to meet his or her needs, do not hesitate to take action. The law is very specific about parents' rights and you only want what's in your child's best interest.