Summer School Short Course
Advocating Through Letter Writing

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In This Issue ...

Circulation: 86, 105
ISSN: 1538-320
July 12, 2011

Welcome Summer! It's time for the 2011 Summer School Short Course: Advocating Through Letter Writing.

Summer School is a refresher course in effective advocacy techniques that will include a series of activities (and maybe a quiz or two) to help you prepare for the next school year.

When you have issues or concerns with the school, you must document these problems in writing. You will not resolve these problems by waving caselaw at school personnel or by writing letters that demand, blame, or complain. This summer, we'll learn how to advocate effectively through letter writing.

This issue of the Special Ed Advocate includes Part 1 of the Summer School Short Course. You will learn to use tactics and strategies when you write effective letters to the school to clarify events and what you were told. Next issue - Rules for good letter writing and your first assignment.

Please don't hesitate to forward this issue to friends, family members, or colleagues.

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Letter Writing and the Need To DO SOMETHING!

Before you send a strongly worded letter to the school, remember, after you send a letter, it is out of your hands forever. You can never change it!

Sometimes, parents write angry letters after a series of bad experiences or when they are in the middle of a crisis. In The Art of Writing Letters you'll find out what important things to keep in mind before you fire off a letter to the school.

In this article, you learn about the Blame Approach and the Story-Telling Approach, the sympathy factor, first impressions, pitfalls, and the powerful decision-making stranger.


"After I Started Writing Letters - Things Changed"

We received a letter from Rose, a parent advocate, who wrote to us about learning a hard lesson.

Read Rose's Advice to Parents about the benefit of writing letters to document problems with the school. Find out what happened when she sent letters, and why she wanted to "kick herself" when she didn't.

In Rose's story, she advises parents to send letters to help set things straight. When Rose writes letters, she requests the school respond in writing.


Find Out How to Write Good Letters

Do you know how to write short, polite, letters

  • that document what school people are telling you,
  • to express your concerns,
  • to ask when XYZ will happen, or
  • to make requests for services and/or evaluations?

Chapter 23: How to Write Good Evidence Letters and Chapter 24: Writing the "Letter to a Stranger" in Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition. Table of Contents

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Sue Whitney

Strategies for Getting Help - Write a Letter!

Q. My son gets extra help in special ed but got an "F" in reading. The school said he couldn't be in special ed and the classroom Reading First program. What should I do?

Advocate Sue Whitney advises, "Write a letter to the principal to request information."

In Teaching a Child to Read: Special Ed or Reading First? Sue provides answers to a parent's question, includes 17 questions to ask the school, and says, Ask all 17 of these questions in your letter even if you know the answers. Asking these questions in writing will give the principal and the IEP team a chance to assess your son’s school situation.

Keep a copy of your letter to the school. Keep a copy of their answers. After you deliver the letter to the principal, request an IEP meeting to review your son’s IEP.

More questions? Everyday, people just like you, Ask the Advocates.

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Great Products From Wrightslaw

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright Wrightslaw: All About IEPs

Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board

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