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Maintaining Your Child’s Special Education Records
Parents may not expect to get into disagreement with their child’s school district about whether their child with a disability is receiving special education and related services in compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that are sufficient to satisfy the child’s right to a “free and appropriate education” (FAPE).
Whether or not a parent asks an attorney to become involved in dealing with such a disagreement, it’s important for parents to retain ALL of the documents, communications, and records related to their child’s disability-related needs, including the following:
- Emails, memos, and letters to and from the parent and the school district and area education agency (AEA) concerning any matter related to the child’s disability and/or special education services.
- Records of all requests by the parent in regard to evaluations, reevaluations, changes in services, and educational placement.
- Prior Written Notices to the parent provided by the school district and/or AEA in regard to actions proposed or refused by the school district and/or AEA.
- Individualized Education Program (IEP) documents.
- IEP Team meeting notices and a list of people who actually attended each IEP meeting.
- Copies of parental consents and releases of information.
- Reports and letters from private medical, psychological, and therapeutic evaluations, consultations and services related to the child’s disability, and social, emotional, and academic progress.
- Reports and letters from all educational, psychological, and functional assessments and evaluations performed by the school district and AEA related to the child’s disability, and social, emotional, and academic progress.
- Records of all disciplinary and attendance matters.
- All grade report cards and IEP report cards/progress reports;
- All reports from school-wide standardized testing (e.g., the Iowa Tests, DIBELS, MAP, NWEAE);
- Records of the names of all medications taken by the child in connection with a disability or that have a bearing on his or her functioning;
- Parent notes and audio recordings from all IEP meetings.
If at all possible, scan hard-copy documents to pdf format, save them on a hard drive and back them up to an external hard drive, and title them by the date and type of document (e.g., 1-20-2012 7thGrade Autism Clinic Evaluation, 2-20-2012 7th Grade Iowa Tests Report, 4-1-2012 7th OT Evaluation).
Other tips that parents have found helpful include:
- Emails: Retain ALL emails sent by you or sent to you from anyone from the school district or area education agency. Before you change email services, forward those emails to your new account.
- IEPs and other documents: Upon receiving an document, immediately write the date you received it in the upper right hand corner and write any notes about its significance on an attached sticky note. File in order by date.