Appealing Your Child's Gifted Placement Decision
Your child was screened and didn't make it. Yet. Here's how to get satisfaction.
Posted Jun 20, 2013
“I understand and can hear your frustration, sir. I’ll answer all of your questions one-by-one. [I’ve written them on a sticky note as he has talked.] But let me first tell you this: You have the right to appeal this decision, and I think you should.”
The decision we are talking about is whether or not his son should be admitted into the gifted program in our school division. His son, while truly bright, did not, as it turns out, meet the requirements this year. He was screened two years ago, according to the documentation I see in the child’s cumulative records folder, with similar results: not eligible to receive gifted services. My guess is that the parents were confused then, but they decided to let it go another year. Now, the notification that this father received in the mail a few days ago has prompted this phone call.
I’m not just trying to calm this man down in order to make my life easier. My suggestion that he formally appeal this decision is genuine and there are plenty of reasons for him to do so—even if formally stating his concerns to someone above my own pay grade is just one. Over the course of the next ten minutes or so, I’ll address his concerns individually and then I’ll walk him through the appeal process. After all, that’s where the real final decisions can be made.
How to Appeal Against a Gifted Placement Decision
Nearly every school district in the United States (and Europe) has some kind of formal process for handling situations like the one described above. I’ve written in the past about how you, as a parent, have the right to be an advocate for your gifted child. Formally identified or not, you must acknowledge that role and embrace it now as you prepare for this process. The steps that school divisions require will differ from one to another but, really, they are all similar enough to paint the appeal process with these broad strokes.
Step Two: Respond to the appeals authority in writing and by phone. This is not overkill. Do both. If your letter gets lost in the mail, your phone message is a back-up to ensure your case is not lost in the shuffle. Typically your written notification requesting this appeal must be submitted within 30 days and the school division must then respond within another 30 days. Note that I write “respond.” This means merely that you will be informed of the next step in the process, typically a date discuss the appeal in person.
Step Four: Prepare what you will say to the committee. It’s likely that you’ll be invited to say why you’re appealing against the school district’s decision. You’ll need to explain why you think this placement in the gifted program is best for your child’s unique needs and offer any special circumstances that support your application. Be sure that your reasons correspond to what the division’s requirements are for gifted services. Merely because you’d like your son to be in the gifted program is not enough. You’ll need to find other evidence that indicates his giftedness—anecdotal evidence you can supply, teachers’ observations from the classroom, perhaps even additional test scores administered from an outside source.
Additional sources of information can be helpful to you as you prepare. Ask other parents what they have done, seen, or experienced if they have a child in the gifted program. This might help you further support claims why your child, too, needs placement there. You might also consult national organizations such as the National Association for Gifted Children for more information on gifted education and the appeals process. They have many many resources readily available online that might be perfect for your particular concerns.
Some final thoughts.... You really have to remember only one truth here: it is your right to appeal this decision. It is not antagonistic of you to do so; it is not a waste of anyone’s time to demand it. There is a process already in place to handle precisely this, and you should be ready to use it so that your concerns have been heard and responded to in a thorough manner. Take the time to gather your resources and go. You’ve got this.