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When might I want to write to my child’s school?

Sometimes your child may have a particular problem at school. You may have talked to your child’s teacher about this concern. The two of you may have written notes back and forth or talked on the phone. If it seems like nothing is happening to resolve your concern, then you may want to write a formal letter. Perhaps the informal communication hasn’t been as clear as you think. Maybe you feel that the seriousness of your concern isn’t fully understood. By writing a letter, the school will learn that you consider the matter to be an important one that needs to be addressed. You can write about any concern - an IEP issue, a general education issue, school-yard bullying, or the need to help your child’s social skills or improve behavior. There are no rules as to the type of problem you can write about. Any school problem is worth writing about if it is having a negative impact on your child and you need the school’s assistance to resolve it.

Sample Letter 1: Discussing a Problem

Today’s Date (include month, day, and year)

Your Name
Street Address
City, State, Zip Code
Daytime telephone number

Name of Principal
Name of School
Street Address
City, State, Zip Code

Dear (Principal’s name),

In this paragraph say who you are, give your child’s full name, and his or her current class placement. Say something positive about your child’s situation here, before you state your reason for writing.

BRIEFLY, explain why you are writing. Give relevant history and facts that support your concerns. (For example, your 3rd grader is struggling in school and you want to ask for help. You might say that your child’s school work has been getting worse throughout the year. That fact is relevant. Talking about something from your child’s infancy probably isn’t.)

In this paragraph state what you would like to have happen or what you would like to see changed. You may BRIEFLY say what you would not like, or what has been tried and not worked. However, spend most of this paragraph saying what you want.

Say what type of response you would prefer. For instance, do you need to meet with someone, do you want a return letter, or a phone call?

Finally, give your daytime telephone number and state that you look forward to hearing from the person soon or give a date (“Please respond by the 15th”). End the letter with “Thank you for your attention to this matter.”

Your name

cc: your child’s teacher
other staff

Note: The “cc:” at the bottom of the letter means you are sending a copy of your letter to the people listed after the cc. If you write to the Director of Special Education about a problem at your child’s school, you should copy the principal. If you write to the principal about a problem, you should copy your child’s teacher or other staff involved with your child. This follows the “chain of command.” It also lets people involved know your concerns and that you are taking steps to resolve these concerns.

Always keep a copy of your letter for your own files.

This information is copyright free.

Readers are encouraged to copy and share it, but please credit the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY). NICHCY Parent Guides are published in response to questions from individuals and organizations that contact us. We encourage you to share your ideas and feedback with us!

Publication of this document is made possible through a Cooperative Agreement between the Academy for Educational Development and the Office of Special Education Programs of the U.S. Department of Education. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

P.O. Box 1492
Washington, DC 20013
v/tty: (800) 695-0285
Fax: (202) 884-8441
e-mail: [email protected]

Excerpted from Communication with Your Child’s School Through Letters. National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities. (2002). Washington, D.C.: Academy for Educational Development.
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