When Teachers Don't Cooperate

By Eileen Bailey

The majority of teachers are more than willing to work with parents to help ensure the success of their students. Occasionally, however, teachers do not cooperate with parents in providing information regarding the student. Parents may want information on progress, assignments or other academic information. This information is essential to parents wanting to request an evaluation or to help determine what accommodations or services worked well and which ones did not and should be adjusted. It is also beneficial to the child for parents and teachers to work together.


When children are covered under an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) or Section 504, communication should be addressed at the initial meeting. In addition to discussing methods of communication between teachers and parents, specific goals should be made. The communication method, whether by notes, email or phone calls, should address the progress of the goals on a regular basis. In a recent interview, student advocate, Dawn Trautwein of All About Kids Advocacy, tells parents that any time a child is not making progress, the IEP (or Section 504) team should meet to make adjustments to services, accommodations or modifications.


If a teacher is unwilling or unable to provide information to a parent, or is otherwise uncooperative, parents can take some steps to help resolve the situation:


1)      When parents have a specific problem with a teacher, the best place to start is with the teacher. Set up a meeting to talk with the teacher, either before or after school hours, when both you and the teacher can focus. Let the teacher know what concerns you have, without being adversarial. Calmly explain what you perceive as a problem and offer suggestions to help correct the situation.

2)      If a meeting with the teacher does not resolve the situation, decide whether the problem is a result of or relating to your child’s disability. If the problem is a school problem, or is a situation you would feel compelled to complain about regardless of your child’s disability, it is probably best to contact the principal. One measure of this, according to Ms. Trautwein, would be whether this issue would matter if your child did not have a disability. For example, if you have a child without a disability, would you feel the teacher’s conduct required meeting with the principal? If so, the principal would be the place to start.

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