3 Rules You Should Be Following When Corresponding With Your District
Do you feel like you are getting nowhere in your "back-and-forths" with your District? Are you worried that your concerns are not being taking seriously or documented properly? The question is: how do you convey all of your issues in a clear, concise way, confident that they will be memorialized for any future case?
Don't Get Yourself Into a Never-Ending, No-Win, Back-and-Forth with the District
Parents have a duty to cooperate with the District, but this is not to be confused with a duty to agree with the District. You do not have to see eye to eye with them, and sometimes agreeing to disagree is the best course of action (see more on that here). To that end, it is best to communicate your requests and concerns to the District using the rules below. If the District does not adequately reply, or reply at all, let your attorney do the rest of the work. It is all about communicating what you need to say as clearly as possible, and trusting that your lawyer will pick up the ball from there.
Follow These 3 Rules When Corresponding With Your District:
1. Put Everything in Writing...: It is always best to correspond with the District in writing. Besides leaving you with a record, it also helps to create a bit of a barrier - peoples' emotions are more likely to take over in person. Of course, this is the real world and, on occasion, you will have meetings with your District or run into District representatives, especially if your children are in public school. Try to keep those interactions short and sweet; and if any discussion about your child's program or case occurs, follow up with a letter reducing the conversation to writing.
2. ....Then, Fax it to the District: My clients are surprised, and sometimes frustrated when I tell them to send their letters by fax - most of them did away with their fax machine in 1995. However, faxing is still the best way to get a immediate delivery receipt. Luckily, noways you don't need a machine to send a fax. My office sends faxes online using a scanner (one great service for this is HelloFax). As a alternative, you can send the letter via mail, return receipt requested, but going to the post office, and then remembering to wait for the delivery receipt to arrive, can be a real hassle. Why not email the letter with a delivery receipt request attached, you ask? Besides the fact that not all email services have this feature, email lends itself to an informal response and can get you mired down in the type of frustrating back-and-forth interaction you are trying to avoid. If a reply does come, a letter usually leads to a more formal response.
3. Always Run it By Your Attorney First: If you have an attorney (and if you are even considering suing your District for reimbursement, you should consider speaking to one). Run all of your interactions and correspondence by them first. They may want to slightly change the wording or add an additional recipient to the letter, or even send the letter out on your behalf from their office. All of this depends on their case strategy. Let your attorney review and revise your communications - that's what we are here for!
For additional questions about your interactions with the DOE, or other inquiries, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646-741-3030.