From NICHCY’s series of model letters…because sometimes
you need to communicate with the school
about your child’s education.
3rd edition, January 2011
This short publication comes from a much longer Parent’s Guide that focuses on communicating with your child’s school via letter writing. There are times when you, as a parent, may want to communicate in writing with your child’s school about some problem or concern with your child’s education or well-being. Because the Parent’s Guide is so long, we decided it would be more convenient to our readers if each of the letters discussed in the guide was also available separately, to make reading and printing individual letters easier.
This page presents a model letter or email you might write the school to request an independent educational evaluation of your child at public expense (meaning that the school pays for the evaluation).
The IDEA (the nation’s special education law) gives you the right to have your child evaluated independently. This means you have the right to have your child evaluated by someone other than the staff who work for the school system. The purpose of the evaluation is to see if your child has a disability and, if so, what his or her special needs are.
In some cases, you may pay for an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE). In other cases, the school system may pay for it. If the school system pays for the IEE or sees that the IEE is done at no cost to you, this is known as an IEE at public expense. You can read more about IEEs online at the CPIR: http://parentcenterhub.org/repository/iee/
Why would I want to request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at public expense?
Sometimes a family may feel that the results of the school’s evaluation do not accurately describe their child. They may want additional academic tests or medical exams. Or they may be interested in evaluations in skill areas the school staff did not test. Parents can choose to have their child tested outside the school system, for these or other reasons.
However, if you want the school to pay for the IEE, you will need to make your request BEFORE any independent testing is done. Some reasons you may want to request an independent evaluation include:
- You believe the original evaluation was incorrect or incomplete and additional tests are needed.
- The original evaluation was not done in your child’s native language.
- The evaluation was not done with the needed accommodations (for example, in Braille or administered by someone who knows sign language).
The school system may agree to your request and pay for the IEE. On the other hand, the school system may deny your request and ask for a hearing to show that its own evaluation was appropriate. You will have the chance at this hearing to state your reasons why the school system should be required to pay for the IEE.
An impartial third person (called a hearing officer) listens to and reviews the evidence. This individual then decides if the school system must pay for an independent evaluation. If the hearing officer decides in favor of the school system, you may still obtain an independent evaluation, but you must pay for it.
The results of the IEE must be considered by the school in any decision made regarding your child’s free appropriate public education.
General letter-writing tips
When writing any business letter, it is important to keep it short and to the point. First, start by asking yourself the following questions and state the answers in your letter:
- Why am I writing?
- What are my specific concerns?
- What are my questions?
- What would I like the person to do about this situation?
- What sort of response do I want: a letter, a meeting, a phone call, or something else?
Each letter you write should include the following basic information:
- Put the date on your letter.
- Give your child’s full name and the name of your child’s main teacher or current class placement.
- Say what you want, rather than what you don’t want. Keep it simple.
- Give your address and a daytime phone number where you can be reached.
- Always end your letter with a “thank you.”
What are some other tips to keep in mind?
You want to make a good impression so that the person reading your letter will understand your request and say “yes.” Remember, this person may not know you, your child, or your child’s situation. Keep the tone of your letter pleasant and businesslike. Give the facts without letting anger, frustration, blame, or other negative emotions creep in. Some letter-writing tips include:
- After you write your first draft, put the letter aside for a day or two. Then look at it again and revise it with fresh eyes.
- Read your letter as though you are the person receiving it. Is your request clear? Have you included the important facts? Does your letter ramble on and on? Is it likely to offend, or is the tone businesslike?
- Have someone else read your letter for you. Is your reason for writing clear? Can the reader tell what you are asking for? Would the reader say “yes” if he or she received this letter? Can your letter be improved?
- Use spell check and grammar check on the computer. Or ask someone reliable to edit your letter before you send it.
- Keep a copy for your records.
Today’s Date (include month, day, and year)
City, State, Zip Code
Daytime telephone number
Name of the person to whom you’re writing
City, State, Zip Code
Dear (person’s name),
My son/daughter, (child’s name), is in the ( _ ) grade at (name of school), in (teacher’s name) class. He/She was evaluated for special education services in (month/year). I am writing to request an Independent Educational Evaluation at public expense, for the following reasons: (BRIEFLY list your reason(s). Be very specific. For example,)
“I disagree with the evaluation results because . . .”
“The evaluation should have included . . .”
“Evaluation should have been done in the area of . . .”
I would like this Independent Educational Evaluation to be done as quickly as possible so that we can fully address (child’s name) needs. Please respond as soon as possible and send me copies of the school’s guidelines for this. My daytime telephone number is (give your phone number). Thank you.
cc: your child’s principal
your child’s teacher(s)
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.
Would you like to read another letter?
Discussing a problem
Requesting a copy of your child’s records
Requesting an evaluation for special education services
Requesting an independent evaluation
(you’re already here)
Requesting a meeting to review your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP)
Requesting a change in your child’s placement
Informing the school that you intend to place your child in a private school at public expense
Requesting prior written notice
Requesting mediation to resolve a conflict
Requesting a due process hearing to resolve a conflict
Filing a complaint with the State to resolve a conflict