Back to School: Communication

School is back in session and the “honeymoon” period is over. You should have received some information from your child’s teacher regarding progress toward the goals you established in the last IEP. How are things going? Is your child making progress?

As you take time to communicate with your child’s school and teacher, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Many teachers are happy to respond to emails you send and are willing to send you a daily update. If this is the kind of communication that you want, ask your child’s teacher if this is possible.

In general, any classroom concerns should be referred to the classroom teacher who is providing instruction to your child. It is a good idea to make a note on a calendar if you find you need to contact the teacher regarding an issue. Most times the teacher is able to answer your questions and address your concerns.

If you have questions or concerns that are related to school policy or procedures, certainly make the classroom teacher the first point of contact, but be prepared to talk to the building and school system administration.

It makes sense that your first contact would be a simple phone call to express your question or concern. If you find that your initial contact is not enough to resolve your concern, you should be prepared to write a letter discussing the problem. The letter should be written to clearly define the problem you are having. Make sure to date the letter and keep a copy for your files.

If this does not resolve the issue, and the issue is related to the special education services your child is receiving, you may contact the Department of Education: Special Education Programs at The staff can help you solve problems and answer your questions.

As you look over your copy of the Procedural Safeguards that you were given by the school, you will see that there are three possible avenues you may use to resolve problems, if your initial attempts have been unsuccessful. You may request mediation. This would involve an assigned mediator who would work with you and the school to sort out the differences. You should contact your school’s Director of Special Education to begin this process.

If your concerns involve the implementation of your child’s IEP, you may want to file a complaint. Again, you can contact your school’s Director of Special Education to begin the process. The Indiana Department of Education will review the complaint and, based on their findings, will specify the corrective action that must be completed.

If the problem you are experiencing involves a violation of the state and federal laws covering special education services in the public school, you will be advised to request a Due Process Hearing. In situations that are taken to due process, the department of education will assign an officer to oversee the case. You might want to find an attorney who specializes in special education issues to work with you in presenting your case. The results of this hearing will be made public and can impact other special education programs in the state.

Of course it always best to try to solve problems with the school and teacher first, before proceeding to the options discussed. Most issues will be solved quickly and easily with your child’s teacher, but it is good to keep in mind these other options are available to you.

Mika Adams

Autism Consultation

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