In today’s digital age, phone calls may seem like a casual, fleeting mode of communication. However, when it comes to matters of special education, every interaction counts, and we know when a school calls- it is usually important and not positive.
Preserving the content of these conversations can help win or avoid a due process hearing. Unfortunately, not every state permits the recording of phone calls. For instance, in Pennsylvania, it is illegal to record a phone call without the consent of all parties involved. This is where email documentation can be an invaluable tool.
After every phone call with school personnel, consider sending a confirmation email. This email serves as a written record of the conversation, capturing essential details, agreements, and points of discussion. This can be critical in ensuring your child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is correctly implemented, and their rights are upheld.
So, how should you write this email? Here are some recommendations:
- Be Timely: Send the email as soon as possible after the phone call. This will help ensure that all the details are still fresh in your mind.
- Keep it Professional: While it’s important to maintain a friendly rapport with your child’s teachers and administrators, remember that these emails may serve as official records. Use a polite, professional tone and avoid casual language or jargon.
- Details Matter: Include the date and time of the call, the name of the person you spoke with, and their position. Also, mention the main topics of discussion during the call.
- Clarify Actions and Decisions: State any decisions made, actions agreed upon, or follow-up needed from the school staff. This is especially important for things that will affect your child’s education and services.
- Maintain Clarity: Ensure your email is easy to read and understand. Use bullet points or numbered lists for different topics, if necessary.
- Request Confirmation: At the end of the email, request that the recipient confirm the content. This way, you have their agreement in writing as well.
Here’s an example of how such an email might look:
Subject: Confirmation of Phone Conversation on [date]
Dear [Recipient’s Name],
I am writing to summarize and confirm the details of our phone conversation on [date] at [time].
During our call, we discussed the following topics related to my child, [Child’s Name]:
- Topic 1: Here, summarize the main points of the conversation regarding this topic.
- Topic 2: Continue in this manner for each topic of discussion.
As per our conversation:
- Decision/Action 1: Summarize the decisions made or actions agreed upon.
- Decision/Action 2: Continue in this manner for each decision or action.
Please review this summary and respond to confirm its accuracy or to provide any necessary corrections or additions.
Thank you for your attention to these matters.
Sincerely, [Your Name]
Remember, this practice is about ensuring clear, mutual understanding and upholding your child’s rights. It’s not about trickery. Rather, it’s a proactive way of ensuring your child’s needs are not negatively impacted by poor or inaccurate communication.
I hope you find these tips useful. Documenting your communications can provide peace of mind, as well as serve as a crucial tool in advocating for your child’s education.