Good record keeping is an essential part of the special education process. Parents should save important records in an organized way to use for special education planning and to keep track of their child’s educational progress. Keeping records also helps when you think IEP goals are not evolving. If you can pull out an IEP from four years ago and show the team that the same goals are listed and there hasn’t been progress, you can ask for a new approach and avoid conversations that go around and around. And the only way to prove your need is through good record keeping. I know it’s one more thing on an already full plate, but if you set it up once and keep it current, you can prevent problems, validate your concerns, and provide your expertise along the way. Using an electronic journal such as CaseKeepers.com allows you to capture daily events and upload critical document quickly and efficiently. Later, reports can be created and provided as needed for doctors, teachers, social workers, IEPs and even the courts as needed. Everything is organized and easy to access.
Here are two big reasons why it is important to have organized, current records on your child:
1. Demonstrate your proficiency. Parents are often sidelined and considered the least professional person on an educational or medical team. Professional assume the parents are not experts. When you arrive with a detailed report, you can access information faster than anyone else, and can offer evidence of your affirmations, you rise up to a peer level and can assert yourself as someone other “the parent.”
2. Recording evidence. Unfortunately, it’s too common to have conflicts with IEP teams, insurance companies, and medical professionals. Often times, disputes arise over the “we said, they said” dilemma. When you can cite dates, times, agreements, whatever is needed, you become the authority in the disagreement. If you are starting down a path of dispute, I strongly encourage you to record all meetings. Tell them you are recording and offer to send it to them. It’s easy, these days, to have both sides record on smartphones. Then when they claim, “I never said that,” you can share the recording and the transcript. And if you ever have to file a special education or civil right complaint, it will be critical to have dated records of every hallway conversation and e-mail sent. The more heated a dispute is, the more important it is to put everything in writing.
Special education records to keep include:
• Individual Education Program (IEP)* (the current IEP and at least the past two IEPS)
• All school Evaluation Summary Reports
• IEP progress reports
• Procedural Safeguards Notice
• Signed release of information forms
• Notes from IEP meetings and conversations with team members
• Records of telephone calls made and meetings attended
• Copies of evaluations done outside of the school
• Meeting notices
Regular education records to keep include:
• Report cards
• Statewide and districtwide assessment scores and reports
• Awards and samples of schoolwork
• Attendance and health records
• Annual student handbook
• Behavior reports (including bus reports, detention, suspensions)
use an electronic journal such as CaseKeepers.com
Forget IEP binders, CaseKeepers is an electronic journal that may be used from your personal computer, tablet or mobile device. Each entry is tagged with the date of the entry and the date of the occurrence. Entries can be tagged for efficient entry and filtering. Documents, photos, videos, and screenshots of texts may all be attached to an entry. And finally, you can annotate each entry with information you think is important.
- Define tags to support your day to day activities or behaviors in CaseKeepers. CaseKeepers supports four categories of your choosing. Within each category, you may define as many tags as you would like. If you are keeping records for multiple children, create a tag for each child.
2. Each time an incident occurs whether positive or negative, create a journal entry using the tags. For example, you might be working on a writing assignment with your child and you notice that they can tell you the story, but they are completely blocked every time they actually try to write anything.
3. Create a journal entry and attach important records such as all medical records, IEPs, report cards, court records and any other documents that you need to keep on hand for future reference.
4. Attach videos and photos of key events whether positive or negative such as holidays, birthdays, school events, milestones, etc.
5. In addition to allowing you to create an electronic journal for you to keep your records, CaseKeepers also supports scheduled popups to track mood, sleep, exercise and anxiety. These trackers allow you to quickly provide daily mood information to doctors, teachers, therapists and social workers.
6. Create reports to share your records may be shared with anyone as a PDF. You choose which journal entries are part of the report. Or you may choose to electronically share your entire CaseKeepers electronic journal with a professional of you choice.