When your teen is in trouble at school, communication with teachers and the administration can be tense. Yet, you are your child’s best advocate and his first line of defense. Here’s how to communicate effectively and fairly with the school.
Count to ten (or five hundred) and consider the following steps:
Gather as many facts as you can and write them down.
Whether it's an unfair grade or a broken rule. Talk to your teen and anyone else involved. This will give you time to assess the situation and will also give you some documentation of the incident.
Call a meeting with the appropriate person at school.
Follow the chain of command, which may begin with the teacher or vice principal, but then could expand to the principal, superintendent, or the school board.
Tip: Your teen should be an active participant in every step of the process and in every meeting or decision.
Before the meeting write down your questions, goals, expectations, possible solutions.
What do you want this meeting to accomplish? What would be the best outcome for your teen? For the school? Is there a win-win solution? What are the next steps and who will be responsible for them?
Take notes during the meeting.
Be sure to document everything that happened at the meeting, what the next steps will be, and a date for the next meeting, if necessary.
Warning: In a bureaucratic system like a school district, your case will be taken more seriously if the school knows that you're keeping a paper trail. Document all the conversations, phone calls, and meetings. And maintain a positive attitude. Your goal is to find a solution or some resolution to the problem, not just to complain about it.
Send everyone a follow-up letter with a copy to the principal (or superintendent if appropriate).
Tip: If you don't get anywhere with the teacher or the vice principal, request a meeting with the next person on the chain of command, or call the superintendent's office and ask to speak with an ombudsman or pupil personnel representative. Repeat steps 1-5.
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