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14 Tips: Reviewing Your Child’s Educational Record

by Wrightslaw

We’ve been posting about using time this summer to review your child’s records and organize his special education file. Have you started yet?

Here are 14 tips for reviewing your child’s record from Pat Howey.

1. Send a request letter to inspect and review your child’s records.

2. Specify all files in the letter, whether or not you believe these records exist.

3. Send this letter to all pre-schools and schools your child attended.

4. Send a second letter to the government agency that provides special education, i.e., Special Ed Cooperatives, Joint Services and Supply.

5. Give the school/agency two or three different dates and times you can be available to review the record.

6. If you do not receive a response within a week, send a follow-up letter, attaching a copy of the original letter.

7. When you go in to review your child’s records, take a number of pads of the smallest size sticky notes with you.

8. With a sticky note, tag every sheet of paper or note that you either have never seen before or that you are certain you do not already have a copy of.

9. Make a note of missing items. If any records are missing, write a note, indicating what you believe is missing.

You have not been provided with all the records if,

  • you have written notes to the school and they are not in any of the records
  • the testing protocols (actual testing instruments) are not in the records
  • your child has had adaptive physical education, physical, occupational, or speech therapy, and the daily progress notes are not in any of the records

10. When you are finished, count the sticky notes. Make a note of the number of pages you can expect.

11. Return the files with a note that requests copies of all items that are tagged with sticky notes.

12. Reminder: Absent state law or local policy, you are not automatically entitled to copies of your child’s records, except under specific circumstances. You may be charged a fee for the copies.

13. When you return to pick up the copies of your child’s records, note the number of copies. If the number varies from what you expect, leave a note stating that you did not receive all requested copies.

14. Sign and date each piece of correspondence you give to the keeper of the records. Always keep a copy for your own records.

Indiana Advocate Pat Howey, a member of the Wrightslaw Speakers Bureau, provides training for parents, educators, and others who want to ensure that children receive quality special education services. Pat provides tips for parents and advocates answers your questions in Ask the Advocate.

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14 Comments on "14 Tips: Reviewing Your Child’s Educational Record"


The school will not respond to our request to review our child records. It been another 45 since the child 18 requested herself to review the records. What to do??


What can a parent do when they feel that the members of their IEP team are for FACT un-trustworthy?

Who can you get to replace them if you feel for CERTAIN that they are not truly listening to you and seem to be deceptive, bothered and rushing you through the whole process when you have certain questions you feel are important?


My son went to the same grade school through fourth grade. I home schooled him in fifth grade for his dyslexia. In fourth grade, he had a 504 plan. When my son returned to the same school for sixth grade, I asked to see his file. The office staff couldn’t find it…anywhere! They said it must have “accidentally” been shredded with some of the old files they cull out each year. What is my recourse for this? I believe I have almost all the documents that would have been in it, except for any internal memos, letters, etc. I suspect it was destroyed deliberately, but I have no proof. My son will attend middle school this fall, so do I just put together all of our own records before speaking to the school administration?


I did this once for one of my sons. I bought a small digital camera and all our memory cards figuring that this would avoid things getting “lost” after I asked for them.

What I found was that, except for a doctor’s diagnosis of a medical condition that we had never provided to the school and they had gotten through other sources, we had more records than they did. All our correspondence and so on – gone.

Question is what then? We have copies so the missing records are not vital, but we now know that his file has been sanitised. What can we do to let the District know that they are breaking the law and it matters?


Annie – If you have signed the IEP it would be deemed complete and should be immediately available to you. In fact, I am surprised you did not receive a copy in-hand at the time you signed. My suggestion would be to contact the Case Manager and ask her to send you a copy same or next day, or that you will drop by to pick it up.. As for reviewing records, there is a nice form letter and guidelines also available on the Parent Information Center website. PIC is active in every state and is another wonderful resource for parents as far as self-education on SPED issues and in getting questions answered.
Bright blessings!.