What to Do if Your Child Is Being Bullied
The first line of defense is being aware that your child runs a higher risk of victimization. Be aware and on the lookout for inappropriate peer behavior. Also, knowing your legal rights and the rights of your child will help you proceed with confidence if and when a problem occurs. When faced with proof that your child is being bullied, there are several steps you should take:
Be sure your child is safe. If you suspect that your child is in physical danger, request immediate action by the school. Your child's safety should always be your number one concern.
Report the incident. Report the details of the incident or incidents in writing to all of the adults involved in your child's care. Everyone caring for your child should be alerted to the situation and asked to monitor and help protect your child. Keep detailed records of every incident involving your child and all of your communications to the school concerning the bullying incident or incidents.
Ask to be updated on the resolution. Due to your child's special situation, request that the school waste no time in remedying the situation. Ask that you be informed when corrective action has taken place. The school may not be allowed to discuss the sanctions for the perpetrator (due to privacy issues), but should be able to tell you what changes have been made to protect your child.
Move up the chain of command. If you are not satisfied that the situation has been resolved and that your child is now safe from harassment, request a meeting with your child's teacher, the school principal, and the superintendent. Be sure you understand your child's rights and don't back down in your request that the school ensure your child's health and well-being. Insist that the school personnel do everything in their power to protect your child.
File a formal complaint. If you are still not satisfied that your child is being protected, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. Be sure to do so within 180 days (about six months) of the incident. You can access the Office for Civil Rights online.
Get legal advice. If you are still unhappy and wish to file a legal complaint against your school district, you would be wise to contact an attorney who specializes in disabilities harassment.
If you believe that your special needs child is being denied free appropriate public education (FAPE) in violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Act, you can file a request for an impartial hearing with the State Education Department. Note: A due process complaint must be in reference to a violation that occurred no more than two years in the past.