Under IDEA parents have several procedural safeguards. You should receive a copy of these safeguards at the initial ARD meeting and at every annual ARD meeting. Be sure to familiarize yourself with them.
One of these procedural safeguards is Prior Written Notice (PWN). Schools are required to provide to parents prior written notice of why they are proposing or refusing to evaluate, initiate or change identification, placement, or a provision of free appropriate public education. The notice must contain the following:
• A description of the action proposed or refused;
• An explanation as to why the action was proposed or refused;
• A description of any other options considered and an explanation as to why those options were rejected;
• A description of each evaluation procedure, test, record, or report used as a basis for the proposal or refusal of the action;
• A description of any other factors relevant to the proposal or refusal of the action;
• A reference to the parents’ procedural safeguards; and
• Sources for parents to obtain assistance in understanding the written notice provisions.
This notice must be provided to you in your native language and written in a way the general public would understand the document.
If you do not receive PWN within a short period of time after the school proposed or refused your proposal, you need to make a written request for the school to provide you with it.
There are three main reasons why prior written notice is important:
1. It gives you the parent detailed information to help you understand why the school is proposing an action or refusing to take an action proposed by you.
2. By schools having to detail why they are proposing or refusing an action, it ensures that you are included in the decisions that impact your child’s educational program. It helps to prevent bad decision-making.
3. By you asking for PWN, it puts the school on notice that you do not agree with their proposal or refusal of an action. This may lead to further discussion and possibly the school changing their decision. Either way you now have a written record of the request that can be used if the need for due process arises.
Prior Written Notice Sample Letter
This post is intended to give you a general idea of the law. However, each situation is different. If you need more specific information about how the law applies to your situation you should contact a special education attorney.