It’s a new month, a new year, even a new decade!  This is usually the time when people make resolutions to make a change for the better.  I’m telling you, one of those intentions should be to get that mess of special ed paperwork, emails, and electronic school documents organized.

Now, I don’t mean to make assumptions that you are disorganized.  I only know that 90% of the people who come to me for advocacy usually can’t put their hands immediately on their child’s FIE and last annual ARD.  (If you just asked yourself, “What is an FIE?”, you need to take my on-line special ed course-the Speak Up For Your Child Bootcamp!)

Take the quiz below and see how you rate.:

  1. Do you have a system for storing all the paper that comes home from school?
      1. Yeah, I stack it on my desk.
      2. Yeah, I keep it in a binder.
      3. Yeah, file 13 works great for me.
  2. Do you have a system for keeping up with your child’s current FIE (Full Individual Evaluation)?
      1. Yeah, I told you, it’s on my desk.,. . . .somewhere.
      2. Yeah, I keep a clean copy in the front of this year’s school binder, a working copy handy, and an electronic copy in a folder entitled “evaluations” in my child’s school records folder on my desktop and in a google docs drive folder.
      3. No, I haven’t seen the FIE since that really long ARD meeting where they read it to me.
  3. How do you keep up with all the emails from school about your child’s special ed program?
      1. They are in my in-box. . . . . somewhere.
      2. I move them to a folder that I created for that school year. I also store all my replies, so that if there’s ever a question, I can easily find the written proof to back up what I was told.
      3. Delete, delete, delete. I get way too many emails as it is.
  4. How do you organize your recordings and transcripts of ARD meetings?
      1. I have a bag that I put all the CDs & flash drives in. . . .on my desk.
      2. I use Otter AI and download the recording and the transcript it generates to the folder for that ARD meeting on my computer.
      3. We can record ARD meetings? I didn’t know that!

Give yourself 5 points for every 1 you answered, 10 points for every 2, and 0 points for every 3.

0 – 5  Points     You’re a mess!  You need some real help organizing your documents.  It would be really good for you to hire an advocate or at the very least an organizer or very organized friend to come over just to get the school records in shape.  Without documentation, you can never file a complaint that has any real teeth to it.  But the real problem is that your child is probably getting about 1/10 of the special education services and supports that they could from the school.

6 – 20 Points   There is hope for you!  You’re at least trying to keep up with the documents, you just need a systematic approach as well as someone to watch the kids for an afternoon while you get everything organized.  It really is easy to maintain once you have a system set up.  I encourage you to keep going!  I spend one whole chapter on organizing documents in my bootcamp.

21-35 Points     You are on your way.  You just need to tweak your system for either the paperwork or electronics so that you know where it all is.

40  Points         Congratulations, you are an organizational master!  You can rest assured that you know where your child’s documentation is, and every request you have can be backed up with documentation. Your child is most likely receiving all the benefits from a public special education! Go reward yourself!

No matter where you are in the organization of your child’s paperwork, it can usually improve, especially as technology changes and allows for better recording of meetings and of moving electronic documents around.  Just remember, thousands of dollars of services could be at stake if you can’t document your version of the story, so take an afternoon, and get organized!