If you have concerns about your child’s special education services, 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.
- Ask for evaluations to ensure that your child’s needs are being met. If you feel the school is not addressing your concerns related to your child – whether they currently have an IEP or not – you can ask for evaluations to better understand their strengths and needs. If your child does not receive special education services and you think they should, ask the school in writing to evaluate your child and explain why you believe your child might need these services. If your child already has an IEP, you can ask for a re-evaluation.
- Request your child’s records. You have the right to copies of 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, including IEP meeting minutes and documents, discipline-related documents like incident reports or suspension notices, and any progress reports or other monitoring data on your child. Use these documents to better understand what is happening and to ask the school for targeted support for your child.
- Ask for a meeting as soon as you find yourself concerned about something. You can ask for an IEP meeting 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 special education services, ask for an IEP 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.
- Ask for a facilitated IEP meeting. If you feel that your voice is not being heard in your child’s IEP meetings, you can request a facilitated IEP meeting. If the school agrees, a third-party facilitator will contact you to understand your concerns prior to the meeting and then will come to the IEP meeting to help guide a productive discussion. You can request a facilitated IEP meeting by completing a few forms on the NC DPI website.
You can find more information about each of these strategies in our Special Education Advocacy Toolkit:
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.