Paper Trails: Your Word Against Theirs – Not a Good Position!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A parent writes,

The IEP has been ongoing for a year now. There have been endless problems: 

– IEP is still unsigned
– procedural errors by the team
– no response to requested evaluation
– reevaluation committee met, the teacher was not there
– two new people attended the meeting, neither knew my child

How can I explain what’s happening?

Many parents don’t realize that it’s essential to create a paper trail of all contacts with school personnel. We repeat this often, but will happily share the links to information and articles again.

If you don’t create a paper trail, the school won’t fix the problem.  It’s just your word against theirs.

Not a good position to be in.

Put it in Writing

Your issues and concerns have not happened suddenly.  Problems have occurred throughout the year.

Do you have letters that you’ve written over the last year that document the problems you’ve encountered?

You say you requested evaluations for your child.

Did you write a letter requesting an evaluation?

  • Have you documented your efforts to get an appropriate IEP for a year?
  • Have you documented who attended meetings? Who did not?
  • Have you documented the fact that your son’s teacher did not attend the last meeting?
  • Did you explain there were people attending who did not know your child?

Learn to write things down, when they happen!

Note your concerns and the school’s response (or lack of response) to your concerns.

Ask the school to confirm your understanding of the issues – problems, concerns, proposed solutions.

Learn How to Create a Paper Trail

Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2d Edition   Chapters 22 – 24

Print Book & PDF

Print Book

Kindle Edition (mobi)

E-Pub Edition

If you can produce a letter that describes what the school agreed to do, failed to do, or refused to do – your position will be stronger.

If you need help writing letters, click here.

Create a paper trail by documenting contacts with the school – conversations, meetings, and other events.

You can do this easily using low-tech tools like logs, journals, and calendars. To find out how, click here.

Please go to our Letter Writing,  Paper Trails, & Documentation page.

You’ll find sample letters, and much more here:


  1. This is the A #1 most useful and powerful part of advocating for your child. “If it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen.” Bridgitte, yes, your child can attend at your request; I would urge you to consider having her there for only a portion because if she hears people discussing her deficits, that can be a upsetting for your child.

  2. I like to know. The school states that my child may not attend the meeting? Is this true or not. I would like my daughter to be at the meeting. She is 8 years old.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Please help us defeat spam. Thank you. *