Special Education & Disability-related Needs

If you have concerns about your child’s educational or behavioral needs not being met at school, we suggest trying the following strategies to resolve the issue before calling our intake line:

  • Always document your concerns in writing. We recommend emailing your child’s teacher, principal, and any other adults they interact with at the school (special education teacher, therapists, etc.) with your concerns. Explain what you are concerned about, including any relevant dates and times, and let the school know what support you would like to see for your child or ask how they can help your child.
  • Request your child’s records and any other information. You have the right to review any records that the school keeps about your child. We recommend emailing your child’s principal to ask for any documents that might address your concerns: IEP meeting minutes and documents, copies of report cards, progress reports, classroom assessment results, standardized test results, attendance reports, and any office referrals or behavioral write-ups. Use these documents to better understand what is happening and to ask the school for targeted support for your child. Here is a template email you can use to request more information and documentation.
  • Ask for a meeting as soon as you find yourself concerned about something. You can ask for a team meeting (IEP, 504, etc.) at any time, for any reason, if you think there is something the school can be doing to better support your child. If you don’t think your child is getting the right services or an accommodation that they need, ask for a team meeting. If you are concerned that the school is not supporting your child and they are having behavior issues in school as a result, ask for a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP). If your child already has a BIP, ask for a BIP review meeting.
  • Be prepared before, during, and after meetings.
    • Before any school meeting, especially an IEP meeting, email the school to ask for any draft documents or materials that will be considered at the meeting, so that you can read them ahead of time. If you need translation and/or interpretation services to be able to meaningfully participate in school meetings of any kind, request those supports ahead of time.
    • During the meeting, under North Carolina law you have the right to make an audio recording of any meeting in which you are an active participant. If it would be helpful for you to have an audio recording of the meeting to be able to refer back to, you can make your own recording. You can request, but cannot require, the school to make a recording for you.
    • After the meeting, send a follow-up email to ask for copies of any meeting minutes or relevant documents.
  • Review our Parent Advocacy & Support Guide. Connect with any local advocacy organizations or support services that may help you address your specific needs.
  • Use our resources and tips below for specific questions or situations. We have also provided email templates that you can copy and paste to use when communicating with your child’s school!

Is your student being recommended for MTSS (multi-tiered systems of support) and/or are you seeking to get extra supports put in place for non-disability-related needs in school?

Do you believe your student may have disability-related needs that require special education services through an Individualized Education Program (IEP)?

Do you believe that your student’s IEP is not providing them with enough support?

Do you believe that your student’s IEP is requiring that they spend too much time away from their peers in a separate class, separate school, on modified day, or on homebound?

The law says

Steps you can take:

Do you think that your student’s struggles with academics, attendance, or behaviors may be disability-related and may require accommodations through a 504 Plan?

Does your student have a 504 Plan, but you believe they are not getting enough support?

Do you feel like your concerns are not being heard in your child’s 504 or IEP Team meetings?



This toolkit includes information about your student’s education rights. It also contains additional tips and tools you can use to ensure students get all the support they need and to which they are legally entitled.  You can use this toolkit to assist in your advocacy efforts on behalf of your students, and/or you can share it directly with other families for them to use in advocating for their children.


Zealous Advocacy in Special Education– In this session, join REP attorney staff and community-based partners in a discussion about key issues that students with disabilities face in school; what legal rights those students have; along with concrete strategies for zealously and creatively advocating to ensure that students with disabilities have all of the supports they need to be successful.