Self-Advocacy Tool: Bullying and Harassment Complaint Form Checklist

Students have a right to be free of bullying and harassment. Students have additional protections on the basis of protected class status such as race, gender, status as being a student who is a person with a disability, immigration status, status as a multilingual learner, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Learn more about your child’s rights here.

If your child is facing bullying and harassment, use this checklist to make a complaint to your child’s school in writing to the principal, your child’s main classroom teacher(s), and to your child’s 504 team or IEP team, if applicable. Check the code of conduct or the student handbook for your child’s school to determine to what process you should follow in making a written complaint. If your child’s school does not use a specific form, a sample complaint form can be found here.

Use the Bullying and Harassment Complaint Form Checklist to complete the specific complaint form used by your child’s school, or the sample form if none is specified, in as much detail as possible. If your child is being called names or slurs, list the specific terms being used. Be sure to keep a copy of your complaint for your records and follow up with the school if they do not get back to you within the timeframe listed in the school policy.

Self-Advocacy Tool: Request for Bullying/Harassment Investigation

Check the Code of Conduct or the Student Handbook for your child’s school to determine to what process you should follow in making a written complaint of bullying and harassment. If your child’s school does not use a specific form to report bullying or harassment, use this tool. Be as specific as possible when you describe what is happening to your child at school. If your child is being called names or slurs, list the specific terms being used. Here is a checklist you can use to make sure you are being as specific as possible. Be sure to keep a copy of your complaint for your records and follow up with the school if they do not get back to you within the timeframe listed in your school’s policy.

 

Self-Advocacy Tool: Request for an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)

Special education evaluations and reevaluations are conducted to determine what services and supports a student needs in their IEP. Sometimes, a school’s evaluation or revaluation is incomplete, lacks important information (often called data), uses the wrong tests, misidentifies a child’s disability, recommends something the parent disagrees with, or otherwise lacks needed information to ensure that a proposed IEP will meet a student’s needs. If this happens, parents can request an Independent Education Evaluation (IEE) at the school’s expense one time per each school evaluation or reevaluation. This independent evaluation will assess a child in all areas of suspected disability and will be conducted by an appropriately credentialed certified school psychologist who does not work for the school. Sometimes, schools have a list of providers they use for IEEs. The law allows the school to decline to pay for an IEE and challenge a request for an IEE through a dispute resolution process, but in most cases districts and charter schools agree pay for the testing.

This tool allows you to request an IEE for your child. Please be as detailed as possible. Return this tool to the principal and special education director at your child’s school.

Request for Mediation to Resolve Special Education Disagreements

Parents who disagree with special education decisions may also pursue a dispute resolution process called “mediation.” This is a voluntary process, and both the school and parent must agree to participate. Parents may invite other participants to help with the mediation process. If a parent chooses to bring an attorney with them to mediation, the school may also bring an attorney.  If the parent chooses to participate in mediation without an attorney, the school cannot bring an attorney either.  Mediation can address any special education disagreement, such as whether a school is following a child’s IEP or special education laws, whether a child’s current IEP is appropriate and meets a child’s needs in the least restrictive environment, or whether a child is being discriminated on the basis of their recognized disabilities.  

 

The Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Office for Dispute Resolution (ODR) assigns a trained person called a mediator to lead the discussion, usually within seven to ten days after a request is made. The mediator does not work for the school and is trained to help people resolve special education disagreements. Nothing said in mediation can be used in future special education hearings or court cases, but the mediation agreement itself can be used. If an agreement is reached in the mediation, it is written down and signed by both the school and parent. If the school doesn’t follow through on its end of the agreement, additional action can be taken to enforce the agreement in court or through other special education dispute resolution processes.  

 

Online Form: You are able to submit a request for mediation directly to ODR using their online form.  

 

PDF Form: You can also complete a PDF form to make the request. If you use the PDF form, you should attach this Request for Mediation to the Notice of Recommended Education Placement given to you by your child’s school when you return it, in addition to checking the Mediation box on the NOREP. If you were not given a NOREP, send a copy of the complaint letter to the principal and special education director of your child’s school. You must submit the tool to both your child’s school and Pennsylvania’s Office for Dispute Resolution by mail, fax, or email at: 6340 Flank Drive, Suite 600, Harrisburg, PA 17112-2764. ODR’s fax number is 717-657-5983, and the e-mail address is [email protected]. 

Self-Advocacy Tool: Request for Due Process Hearing to Resolve Special Education Disputes

Parents who disagree with special education decisions can pursue a dispute resolution process called a Due Process Hearing. This is an official hearing that families can attend on their own, or with an attorney of their choice, to address special education disagreements such as whether a school is following a child’s IEP or special education laws, whether a child’s current IEP is appropriate and meets a child’s needs in the least restrictive environment, or whether a child is being discriminated on the basis of their recognized disabilities.

NOTE: Other than challenges to an initial evaluation, a request to dispute a proposed change in a child’s IEP or special education placement must be submitted within 10 days or it is deemed waived.

Online Form: You are able to submit an online request directly to the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR) using this form.

PDF Form: You can also make your request by completing this PDF form (download via button below) from the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Office of Dispute Resolution. If you use the PDF form to request a Due Process Hearing, you should attach this Request for Due Process to the Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP) given to you by your child’s school when you return it in addition to checking the Due Process Hearing Box on your child’s NOREP. If you were not given a NOREP, send a copy of the Complaint Letter to the Principal and Special Education Director your child’s school. You must submit the tool to both your child’s school and Pennsylvania’s Office for Dispute Resolution by mail, fax, or email at: 6340 Flank Drive, Suite 600, Harrisburg, PA 17112-2764. ODR’s fax number is 717-657-5983, and the e-mail address [email protected].

Affidavit For Students Living With Adults Who Are Not Their Parents

Enrolling a child who is not experiencing homelessness or is in foster care: If a child is living with you and you are not with their parent, they have the right to attend school where you live if certain conditions are met. Use this form to determine whether the child living with you is eligible to enroll in the school catchment in which you reside. This form is an affidavit (sworn statement), which means that you are certifying that all information you put on the form is correct. NOTE: You can face legal penalties if you knowingly complete this form using false information to enroll a child into school.

Enrolling a child who is experiencing homelessness or in foster care: If the child is experiencing homelessness or is in foster care, they are eligible for immediate enrollment without submitting any ordinarily required documents or proving residency. If the school is improperly refusing to enroll a child living with you, you can file an enrollment complaint with the Pennsylvania Department of Education here. Learn about enrolling a child into school here, the rights of students experiencing homelessness here, and the rights of students in foster care here.

Self-Advocacy Tool: Request for Attendance Record Correction

Schools have a legal obligation to maintain accurate student records, including attendance records. Use this tool to request that the school correct your child’s attendance if your child has incorrectly received an unexcused absence. Some schools call unexcused absences “illegal absences.” Please be as detailed as possible when completing this form and attach any documentation you may have to either show your child was present at school or that your child was absent from school for an excused reason such as receiving physical or mental health care or due to a family emergency or “other urgent reasons.”  

Self-Advocacy Tool: Request for Translation and Interpretation Services

Federal civil rights laws require schools to provide free language services for multilingual parents or caregivers whose first language is not English. This form and checklist includes questions the parent or caregiver can ask about the types of language services available and when the school can provide language services. By asking these questions, the parent or caregiver will learn about the process to request language services and the point of contact at the school responsible for providing interpretation and/or translation.

Self-Advocacy Tool: Request to Convene an IEP Meeting

Parents, guardians, Educational Decision Makers (EDMs), and surrogate parents are important members of a student’s IEP team, who must be invited and included in the student’s IEP meeting, which must be held at least once a year. If a student is not making progress, needs more supports, different supports, or something isn’t working well at school, you can request an IEP meeting to discuss your concerns and make suggestions for changes to your child’s IEP. The law does not limit how many IEP meetings a parent can request. You can also make the request that other supportive people who know and support your child attend the IEP meeting, such as doctors, relatives, or outside service providers.

This tool allows you to request an IEP meeting, identify changes you would like to see, bring issues of attendance, bullying and harassment, or other matters to the school’s attention, and request that supportive people be included in your child’s IEP meeting. Please be as detailed as possible when completing this tool. Return this tool to the principal and special education director at your child’s school.

Self-Advocacy Tool:Best Interest Determination for Children in Foster Care

Students who are in foster care have the legal right to remain in the school they attended prior to being placed in care or before their last change in foster care placement (group home, foster home, kinship care, and congregate/residential placement) also called the “school of origin.” Every time a student in care changes placement an individualized Best Interest Determination must be made on behalf of the child. Students who are in care should remain in their school of origin unless it is determined that staying in that school is not in their best interest or a court order says otherwise.  This right is called “school stability.”   

This form issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) contains a list of questions that can be used to help make the decision about whether remaining in the same school is in the best interest of the student. Parents, students, attorneys for the child and others who support the family or child can be part of these important decisions. The child’s Educational Decision Maker (EDM) must be included in these meetings.   

Self-Advocacy Tool: Request for Reevaluation to Determine Continued Eligibility for an IEP

A child is entitled to a re-evaluation every three years or every two years if a child has intellectual disabilities (ID). However, you may also request a re-evaluation at any time.

This tool allows parents, guardians, Educational Decision Makers (EDMs), and surrogate parents to request that their child be reevaluated in all areas of suspected disability by their school to determine if they have new or increased needs that need to be addressed through their current Individualized Education Program (IEP). An IEP is a legally binding document that provides individualized special education services that children with certain disabilities are legally entitled to under law. Please be as specific as possible when completing this tool and list any education concerns you may be having about your child in as much detail as possible. Here is a guide that you can use to complete the tool or help a parent or caregiver to complete the tool.  Once you make this request in writing, the school has a reasonable time, generally 10 days, to agree to re-evaluate your child and issue a Permission to Re-Evaluate Form (PRTE) or decline to evaluate by issuing you a Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP). A school must take one of these two actions under law.

Self-Advocacy Tool: Request for Evaluation to Determine Eligibility for Special Education

This tool allows parents, guardians, Educational Decision Makers (EDMs), and surrogate parents to request that their child be evaluated by their school in all areas of suspected disability to determine their eligibility for an Individualized Education Program (IEP). An IEP is a legally binding document that provides individualized special education services to children with certain disabilities who need specially designed instruction or supports in order to learn. Please be as specific as possible when completing this tool and list any education concerns you may be having about your child in as much detail as possible. Here is a guide that you can use to complete the tool or help a parent or caregiver to complete the tool. Once you make this request in writing, the school has a reasonable amount of time – generally considered to be 10 days – to agree to evaluate your child and issue a Permission to Evaluate Form (PTE) or decline to evaluate by issuing you a Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP). A school must take one of these two actions under law. Once the school agrees and you consent to the evaluation, it must be completed in 60 days.

Self-Advocacy Tool: Request for Determination of Eligibility for a §504 Plan

This tool allows parents, guardians, Educational Decision Makers (EDMs), and surrogate parents to request that their child be evaluated to determine their eligibility for a §504 Accommodations Plan. Students are entitled to a §504 Plan if they have any qualifying disability, including, for example, anxiety, depression, or ADHD. A §504 Plan is a legal document that ensures students with certain disabilities receive the accommodations, supports, and services they need to access school. Please be as specific as possible when completing this tool and list any education concerns you may be having about your child in as much detail as possible.  Here is a guide that you can use to complete the tool or help a parent or caregiver to complete the tool.