How to Advocate For Your Student with an IEP During Remote/Distance Learning: A Sample Letter

By Jenn Choi, Amber Decker, & Rachel Ford of Special Support Services
updated 5.21.2020

You have heard this before: “This is a hard time for every student.” You probably feel conflicted about complaining about the reduced quality of education during this time. We believe marginalized communities such as students with disabilities will disproportionately endure greater challenges over their nondisabled peers during the COVID crisis. Our students require one-to-one, face-to-face interaction, and personalized support. While remote learning has limitations, it does not mean that schools cannot make adjustments as needed in order to educate our students.

To help you voice your concerns, we created A SAMPLE LETTER for New York City public school parents that should be customized to fit your child’s situation.

We want you to read all the options below very carefully and follow the DIRECTIONS for writing the letter to advocate for your child.

Note: Here is a link to a word doc of the letter and directions. Here is a link to a google doc of the letter and directions.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Insert points from Menu A (Problems) and insert points from Menu B (Solutions) only if it applies. Look at the IEP if you need to double check.

— — START OF SAMPLE LETTER

PARENT NAME
Address, City, State
Phone | Email

Today’s Date

SUBMITTED AS A SIGNED PDF BY EMAIL

School Administrator Name, Title
School Name, School District

Address, City, State
Email Address of Administrator

Re: Name of Student, NYC ID#/OSIS, Date of Birth

Dear School Administrator (Principal) or CSE or CPSE:

Thank you for the work that you are doing to support learning during this difficult time. I appreciate your efforts to implement remote learning, which began citywide on March 23, 2020. I am aware that the New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Department of Education’s Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza has authorized remote learning to continue until further notice. I am also aware that students with IEPS are to have contingency plans known as Special Education Remote Learning Plans here in New York City.

I am writing to you about my child Student Full Name, who is in the Grade ____. I need your support. I ask that we work together to address the implementation of my child’s IEP as it relates to remote learning because my child cannot currently access the curriculum. As you know, my child struggles with (ENTER brief details about your child’s academic, physical, social emotional deficits.)

My child’s current Individualized Education Program (IEP) mandates the following: (Special Education Teacher Delivery i.e., ICT, SETSS, 12:1:1, 8:1:1, 6:1:1 and a Paraprofessional i.e., Full time, part time), and Related Services of (ENTER Related Services OT, PT, SLP, HES, AT, Counseling). It also requires Extended School Year services of (ENTER ESY services).

Furthermore, my child’s IEP calls for a number of Measurable Annual Goals, Modifications, Accommodations, Management Needs, and Progress Reporting. Additionally, it includes a Coordinated Set of Transition Activities with measurable post-secondary goals. (If applicable)

I have not been included in the formation of any remote learning plan, including the creation of any Special Education Remote Learning Plan that was required to be provided to all students with an IEP by April 8, 2020. Moreover, I was not given a copy of my child’s Remote Learning Plan. (if applicable)

The following problems have created enormous barriers and hindered my child’s ability to access and participate in the curriculum:

  1. Choose from Menu A

The following are a list of ideas that I would like you and the teachers to consider prior to discussing a new remote learning plan:

  1. Choose from Menu B

I appreciate your time in reviewing this matter. I am sure we can both agree that we want to keep Student Name on track in making academic/social/physical progress as much as is reasonably possible during this challenging moment.

I urge you to review my points carefully and invite me to be a part of writing (or revising) the Remote Learning Plan as Chancellor Carranza’s message to our families on April 15, 2020, has reported that remote learning plans “can be adjusted over time… after consultation with you (the parent).” Together, even during this crisis, we can collaborate to have my child appropriately participate in his curriculum to a degree no less than his neurotypical peers.

I am available at the following dates/times to discuss my child’s remote learning plan. I understand that this meeting would not be an IEP meeting.

Please add this letter to my child’s SESIS record at your earliest convenience. Additionally, please confirm receipt of this letter without delay.

Sincerely,

ENTER SIGNATURE

Parent Name

— — END OF SAMPLE LETTER

DO NOT INCLUDE THIS SECTION IN YOUR LETTER

PROBLEMS Menu A Pick from the list of problems. Pick only things that match your child’s current IEP services.

  • Problems with asynchronous learning in which the student is not being instructed by a live instructional session over video-conferencing platform: My child currently receives (choose one) ICT services, instruction in a Special Class. In asynchronous mode of instruction, checking for understanding can’t occur in real time, and my child’s executive functioning deficits (start work, task persistence, problem solving) are exacerbated, and any social skill goals development is impossible. This method also asks my child to request help for more needed instruction. However, due to my child’s disability, that requirement creates a barrier to my child’s education. Additionally, the particular learning needs of my child can only be addressed in real-time and cannot be provided by asynchronous learning. Thus, I assert this as a lack of provision of his/her/their special education services.

SOLUTIONS MENU B Pick the Solutions that could work for your child.

  • Regularly scheduled teacher check-ins: NYC DOE Guidance in Response to Covid dated March 17, 2020 includes a teacher’s responsibility such as: “Monitor student participation in activities, grade assignments and assessments, and provide timely feedback on work submitted by students. Communicate with families about student progress.” I request that my child receive regularly scheduled 1:1 check-ins with the teacher to ensure my child is making appropriate progress as part of the required timely feedback. Comments on Google Classroom are appreciated, but not as effective in making appropriate progress when compared to a 1:1 video conference. There should be an official communication and scheduled time, with additional times set up if need be, and parents should be informed of this. Content for check-ins can be decided by student and teacher, but it is appropriate for the teacher to follow up on concerns over student’s performance on submitted work, scaffolding the curriculum based on management needs and pursuit of IEP goals.

REFERENCE DOCUMENTS

Parent Advocate supporting families navigate the special education process, AT coach, http://specialsupportservices.com @ToysAsTools

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