Effective Parents Maintain Accurate, Complete and Organized Records
It is Important to Maintain Accurate, Complete and Organized Records
Typically, a child attends school for several years before his or her parents decide to challenge the special education services or placement which have been proposed by the school district. During this time, there are countless meetings, letters and emails with teachers, as well as numerous evaluations, multiple IEPs and years of progress reports, report cards and test results. Each of these documents provides valuable information about the child’s disability and the school’s response to the child’s needs. As part of my assessment, I review each document carefully so that I have a full understanding of a child’s needs.
Effective parents recognize the importance of maintaining their child’s records in an organized manner. It is a nightmare when a parent comes into my office carrying boxes of unorganized papers, sometimes unsure whether the last evaluation is included or whether the last proposed IEP was accepted. While it certainly takes some effort, collecting and organizing your child’s records will save you money and improve your child’s case. When I have to spend hours organizing papers or, even worse, communicating with the school or providers to find missing documents, we charge for our time. This is not the best way to spend your money.
More importantly, special education cases are usually won based upon evidence contained within the child’s records. While the school will have a copy of most records pertaining to your child, you simply cannot rely on the school to find and produce all the documents you may need. Letters and emails in particular tend to disappear if you have not maintained a copy.
In my experience, effective parents develop a system of binders or folders divided into categories to keep all records relating to their child. These categories should include, at a minimum, the following items:
(1) all correspondence (including emails) with the school relating to your child’s performance;
(2) all evaluations, whether done privately or by the school;
(3) signed copies of all IEPs and the documents relating to the development of the IEP, including minutes, notes and attendance rosters, as well as signed rejection pages and letters;
(4) all progress reports, test scores and report cards;
(5) the parent’s notes concerning team meetings and other interactions with the school; and
(6) samples of the child’s work.
Maintaining and organizing your child’s records will save you money and, most importantly, will strengthen your child’s case. It’s well worth the time to do it now, rather than attempt to recreate the record years later.