Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Your Best Weapon--The PEN

"The pen is mightier than the sword."  This should be your mantra through all of your encounters with the school system.  And I don't mean physical paper and pen--email is perfectly acceptable.  Put EVERYTHING in writing.  It is so easy for a teacher or school official to suddenly "forget" receiving a phone call from you.  In contrast, a letter or email cannot be ignored or forgotten.   It is documentation that has to be addressed and resolved in some way.  For that reason, letters initiate action unlike a phone call.  Even if you do decide to make a phone call, always follow up with a letter or email.  The correspondence should review the matter of the phone conversation and state any actions that were agreed upon.  Let the reader know that you would like a response or clarification if he or she believes that your summary is not accurate.  These types of letters put the burden back on the school to correct any misunderstandings that may have taken place, and will justify any follow-up actions that you take.

Although we all hope to avoid trial, if the matter does go before a tribunal, your documentation is going to be a powerful weapon.  It will support your version of events, demonstrate your efforts, and show how professional and reasonable you are!   Keep in mind that the documentation will paint a picture for the court.  The goal is to show the court that you are a reasonable, committed parent who took every step necessary to obtain an appropriate education for your child.

UP NEXT:  How to write an effective letter.

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