If you think that your child is struggling in school because of educational needs different from those of other students, it may be frustrating to deal with teachers or school officials who disagree. Fortunately, you do have a recourse: a dissenting letter to the school asking for a special education evaluation for your child. The evaluation will determine whether the child has a disability and will need special education, and it is relatively simple to craft such a request and submit it to your school.
Begin the letter with the date. For example: "Aug. 18, 2011." Below that write the name of the principal of the school and then the school's full physical address.
Indicate which child you are referring to on the next line. For example: "Re: John Smith, Mrs. Johnson's class (1st Grade)."
Write the body of the letter next. Tell the principal your child is having difficulty in the school, and provide some examples if you can.
Write in the next paragraph that you are formally requesting for the school to begin a special education evaluation to determine if your child needs special attention. Instruct the school to send you the evaluation plan and consent forms, and to keep you abreast of when the school will schedule an evaluation.
Add a friendly closing thanking the principal for the consideration and note that the principal is welcome to contact you with questions.
Sign your name and provide your phone number and address.
Mail the letter to the principal. According to the federal "Individuals with Disabilities Education Act," the school must respond to the request and complete the evaluation within a specified period of time. Although the time frame varies by state, generally the school must complete the evaluation in 60 days or less.
- Understanding Special Education: Sample Parent Letter Requesting a Special Education Evaluation
- PBS Parents; Special Education Evaluation: What Parents Should Know and Ask; Dr. Leslie Soodak, et al.
- Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates; State Timelines for an Initial Evaluation Under the IDEA; Dr. Felicia Hurewitz; April 2007
- Photo Credit Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images