Put it in Writing!
We Can Help.
Knowing how to make requests or document your understanding in writing can be an essential part of advocating for your student. It can be hard to know how to write letters that work. We’ve created these templates to help make the process easier. Just download the templates (Microsoft Word files) below and customize them with your own information.
Don’t forget to keep a copy of any letter your write for your own records! Reach out if you have questions or want advice.
One of the most important and useful tools is the MOU, or Memorandum of Understanding. This is simply a letter that is used to document your understanding, at a meeting or after a phone call, for example. You put what happened in writing and share it with the other party. A signed and dated MOU will help you keep things clear and provide a shared paper trail.
Letters About Your Student’s School Records
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. As a parent or guardian, you can review your child’s education records and request changes under certain circumstances. Students who are older than 18 or who are enrolled in post-secondary education can view their own records. Schools must ask for written consent before disclosing your child’s school records to individuals other than you. (For special education records, see Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) rules. You can also request records through FOIA and may get more information.)
- Request to view student records (Download template)
Parents or eligible students have the right to review the student’s education records maintained by the school district.
- Request copies of student records (Download template)
Schools are not required to provide copies of records unless it is impossible for parents or eligible students to review the records (for example: if you are too far away). Schools may charge a fee for copies.
- Request a change in student records (Download template)
You have the right to request that a school correct records that you believe to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school decides not to amend the record, you have the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student has the right to add a statement to the record.
- Make a Complaint To Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (Download template)
When your child’s school doesn’t comply with the federal law, use this template to write a complaint to the U.S. Department of Education. As always, be sure to keep a copy for your records.
Letters to Help You with Special Education Services
Learn more about your rights and the process of becoming eligible for special education services and supports.
Request a Special Education Evaluation (Download template)
Request an Independent Educational Evaluation (Download template)
Request to Reconvene the Individualized Education Program Team (Download template)
Use this letter to ask for another Individualized Education Program Team (IEPT) for your child. You might request another IEPT when you think there is something missing from the plan, when the plan is not being followed, or when you believe that your child needs more or different support in order to be successful.
Request a Functional Behavior Assessment and Positive Behavior Support Plan (Download template)
When a student’s behavior is getting in the way of their learning, you can request an assessment and a plan for positive support and strategies.
Sample Stay-Put Letter (Download template) Use this letter when a student has been expelled or suspended, and you think it is due to behavior that might be reflect a (potential) disability and a need for support and services. This letter requests that an evaluation for special education services happens more quickly, and that the student is reinstated (gets to stay in school) until the evaluation has happened.
Send a Complaint to the Office of Civil Rights (Download template)
When the school has not followed the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), use this letter to file a complaint.
Sample Follow-Up Letter to the Office of Civil Rights (Download template)
If you have not heard a response from the Office of Civil Rights in 30 days, use this letter to follow up with them.
Letters to Help You with Eligibility for Homeless Status
Students who lack a fixed, regular and adequate place to stay at night qualify as homeless and can receive help. Read more about your rights here.
Disputing a Decision When a School Claims a Student is Not Eligible for Homeless Status (Download template)
If a student is determined to be ineligible for homeless status, and you want to challenge this, use this letter.
Disputing the “School Best Placement” Determination (Download template)
Use this letter when the school that you believe is in the child’s best interest is a different one than the school that was determined as the “best placement.”
Making Sure that Students Experiencing Homelessness Can Continue to Play Sports (Download template)
This letter to the Michigan High School Athletic Association asserts the rights of students to play school sports as an extracurricular activity and exempts them from rules that they cannot meet due to homelessness.