Requesting Special Education Records

Letter to Request School Records

As a parent of a child with special needs, you know how important it is to stay informed about your child’s education. One way to do this is by requesting copies of your child’s special education records. These records contain valuable information about your child’s progress, assessments, and accommodations, which can help you better understand your child’s needs and advocate for them effectively. In this blog post, we’ll explore how to go about requesting special education records.

Some Reasons to Request Your Child’s File:

  • You are preparing to request mediation or file for due process with the school due to contentious issues;
  • You are getting ready to move and need to provide the file to the new school;
  • You are having a private evaluation done and want to provide previous evaluations for review;
  • You want a complete copy of your child’s file for yourself;
  • You never received a copy of a document or you misplaced your copy;
  • Your child is getting ready to graduate and you need records for college or program planning; or
  • You have an upcoming ARD (IEP) meeting and you do not think your child is making progress in one or more areas.

The Letter:

If you need to obtain your child’s file, you can either send a request via email or print the request and bring it to your child’s school. The request can be for a complete copy of your child’s file or specific documents. If you would like, you can also schedule a time to go to the school and personally review the file.

Items to Include:

  • Your child’s name, grade, and date of birth;
  • State your request;
  • Ask if there is a fee for copies and what it is;

FERPA and Educational Records:

FERPA stands for Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. It is the federal law that gives parents the right to inspect and view their child’s educational records. FERPA does not require a school to provide copies unless long distance is involved and a fee can be charged if they do provide copies.

Procedural Safeguards and Educational Records:

The Notice of Procedural Safeguards document produced by the TEA states the following about viewing and obtaining copies of educational records:

“If you ask, the school must explain and interpret the records, within reason. The school must make you copies if that is the only way you will be able to inspect and review the records. The school may not charge a fee to search for or to retrieve any education record about your child. However, it may charge a fee for copying if the fee does not keep you from being able to inspect and review the records.”

The school must make them available to you without “unnecessary delay” before an ARD meeting, due process hearing, or resolution session. Generally, they have 45 calendar days to make the records available to you.

Next Steps:

  • If you requested to view the records in person:
    • Bring a pen, notepad, and Post-It Notes Index tabs;
    • Take notes;
    • Use the Post-It Notes to mark any documents you want a copy of;
    • Make a list on your notepad of the documents you requested copies of for reference.
  • If you do not understand a document you have the right to ask that the document be explained to you. You can schedule a time to meet with the person who would be responsible for explaining the document to you; and
  • Update your ARD Binder.

Upcoming Posts:

In my next post, we will discuss writing a letter requesting a draft copy of the proposed IEP prior to the ARD meeting.

If you require help in writing a letter or desire an additional perspective to review one you have already written, do not hesitate to contact me.

Be sure to check out my Resources page on my website.

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