How to Write a Letter to the School Board
Writing a formal letter is an effective way to voice your concerns, ask questions, and make suggestions about the school district to the board of education.
As the nation’s leading organization dedicated to rethinking the high school experience, we bring communities together, throughout the country, to help them dream big about what they want to achieve with their high schools. School boards and their members are valuable assets of a community and are therefore essential in catalyzing change.
In this article, we’ll outline:
- Why someone might write a letter to their school board
- How an effective letter is written
- What to do with your letter once it’s written
- And provide an example to learn from
Engaging With A School Board
Whether you are a student, parent, or community member, engaging with your local school board ensures that your voice and concerns can be heard when decisions are made. Below is a list of topics anyone could write about to their school board that can connect or impact student learning:
- Student achievement and learning opportunities
- Budgetting and resource allocation
- Transportation and school location
- Curriculum, teacher development and student courses
- Student services and support systems
- Student health and nutrition
- Code of conduct, discipline and restorative practices
- Equity and Inclusion initiatives across the district
Below is a list of several topics students and parents can communicate with school boards about high schools specifically:
- Increased access to college-level courses and more rigorous learning opportunities
- More community-driven projects led by students
- More learning experiences outside of the classroom
- Expanding opportunities for internships, CTE courses and certifications
- Expanding access for college and career counseling
- Expanded access to mental health services
If you want your voice to be heard and to show your concern, writing a letter to the school board is an important step. Schools Schools have long relied on their boards of education to represent the community in academic matters. School boards advocate for teachers and administrators, ensuring they have the tools and training necessary to be effective educators.
Boards also play a pivotal role in setting the curriculum. In addition, boards are also responsible for setting policies designed to ensure all students receive the education necessary to be successful in college and the workforce.
According to the National School Board Association, school boards “establish the vision and goals for the public schools in their district, and they set standards for the performance of schools and superintendents.” School boards play a crucial role in shaping the education system in the United States. To learn more about they’re scope of work, you can read more in our article So, What Does a School Board Do, Anyways?.
More than just policymakers and administrators, school board members are elected officials who represent the collective voice and interests of the local community. Their work focuses on achieving the community’s vision when it comes to public education. While they are just one of many local government bodies that support a community, they are the most important when it comes to implementing, developing, and reviewing policies that specifically impact student learning.
Why Write a Letter to the School Board
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, many parents and community members began to engage more frequently and consistently with school boards, attending meetings and providing more public feedback or input.
All school boards post agendas and share with the public when scheduled meetings are to be held. It’s always a good idea to attend a meeting, but that can be hard for people with scheduling conflicts and other responsibilities. Many school boards now offer streaming options for community members, which can be a great way to watch and follow along with what’s happening. If you do attend a meeting and want to speak, you can sign up to make a comment. But writing a letter is still a valuable way to communicate your perspective to the schools board.
There are several reasons people write letters to the school board. It may be to voice concerns or thoughts on a particular topic or to file a complaint about an event or incident. Communicating with the school board regarding your child’s education, special services, or school functions shows your concern for your child’s well-being and quality of instruction.
Beyond the practical tasks, effective school boards set a vision for a community’s young people, helping them achieve a world-class education that prepares them for life beyond high school. This focus aligns with one of our six XQ Design Principles—meaningful, engaged learning, which encompasses curriculum, assessment, student agency, and even the structure of the school day. When applied with fidelity, meaningful, engaged learning helps students make connections between disciplines, solve real problems, and grow as learners and people.
By using a formal method to communicate with the board, you can expect board members will also respond formally. School districts typically have a timeframe within which they must address issues. A formal letter written to the school board is a tried and trusted way to ensure your comments are heard by the school board in an official capacity. Many are read into the public record.
Tips for How to Write a Letter to the School Board
Writing a letter to the board of education allows you to address a serious concern about a particular topic. You can write to the entire board or a specific person. When you compose a letter to the board, present your issues in a logical, well-organized manner. It should be written formally and with respect.
Begin the letter by introducing yourself and identify whether you are a parent, teacher, or another member of the community before then addressing the subject of your concerns. This provides context for your letter.
Use a positive tone by commending them on the quality of teachers or administration, direction of the curriculum, or other aspects of the school district. Include a statement that indicates you are confident they will address your concerns seriously. The board may view this as a balanced, open-minded perspective, making members more likely to give your concern the attention it deserves.
State Your Purpose
Use a voice of respect and authority as you state the purpose of the letter. Write with confidence, showing that you understand the topic you are discussing. When organizing the communication, ask yourself the following: Why you are writing? What are your concerns or questions? What actions do you wish to see? How will your specific concerns impact student learning?
Present Your Concerns
Start by explaining the situation. Keep the letter short, ideally no more than a page, but make sure you include pertinent information. If you are writing about an incident, add names, times, and dates. Maintain a positive and respectful tone when detailing the situation. Relate the facts as you know them.
While writing to stir an emotional response is a rhetorical tactic, a balanced letter will incorporate credible sources that are appropriate and valid. Refrain from becoming so emotional that it seems unrational. Never issue threats, insults directed at the members, or use profanity—even even if you are upset.
Describe the steps you have taken to resolve the matter or investigate events that occurred. This may include detailing conversations with teachers, parents, or other school officials. Attach any relevant supporting documentation. Identify how you would like the problem resolved.
Conclude the letter on a friendly note and express your appreciation in advance for the board members’ time and attention. Be kind and respectful. They work hard and often do not get paid. Communicating with them is not about complaining. Be specific about the issue you are addressing and be candid about your thoughts.
Use the grammar and spell-check features of your software or ask someone to edit your message to ensure it is error-free. Before sending the letter, take a moment to re-read it. If you were upset when you wrote it, give yourself time to calm down and read it again. Put yourself in the position of the recipients. Is your depiction of the situation and request clear? Don’t forget to date the letter and ask for a reply.
Provide your contact information, including your email address and phone number to ensure they have everything they need to provide a response. Keep a copy of all correspondence for your records as a reference for future communication.
Below is a sample letter. Personalize it by adding or changing information to suit your particular needs.
Anytown Board of Education
Phone / email
Dear [Name] School Board Members, (If sending to individual members, personalize your letter with their name)
[Personalize the introduction – State whether you are a parent, teacher, community member, or have another connection to the school district.]
Recently, I read an article where I learned how innovative curriculum is being implemented at Innovative High School in Anywhere, U.S.A. This particular high school, which utilizes project- and place-based learning approaches, had high graduation rates and deeply engaged students. As a parent in this district, I am writing to inquire about how our schools plan to incorporate these innovative practices into our own curriculum.
From what I understand, project- and place-based learning provide a more engaging and effective way for students to learn. Students are given opportunities to apply their knowledge to real-world problems and work collaboratively with others to find solutions. By doing so, students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are necessary for success in today’s world. I’ve included links to articles where other high schools are finding success:
- The Power of this Project- and Place-Based Learning School
- To Prepare Students for the Future, This Michigan School Turns to the Past
As a parent, I believe that our schools should be doing everything in their power to provide the best possible education for our children. By incorporating project- and place-based learning, we can help ensure that our students are well-prepared for the challenges of the future.
Therefore, I would like to ask the school board what plans are being made to bring project- and place-based learning to our district’s schools.
- Are there any pilot programs or initiatives currently underway?
- What steps are being taken to train our teachers and staff on these new approaches to learning?
- What are the district’s policies that might cause roadblocks and what might the solutions be to address them?
I appreciate the hard work and dedication of our school board members and staff, and I look forward to hearing more about how our district plans to incorporate innovative teaching practices that will benefit our students. I’ve included my phone number and email address, and look forward to hearing your response.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.