IDEA 2004 includes a section (Subpart E) called Procedural Safeguards. These safeguards are designed to protect the rights of parents and their child with a disability and, at the same time, give families and school systems mechanisms to resolve their disputes. One of those protections is called “notice”. Notice comes from the district and explains decisions about your child’s education and the reasons/data for making those decisions.
What is “notice”?
Prior Written Notice is a legal requirement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The right of parents to receive “prior written notice” on matters relating to the identification, evaluation, or placement of their child, and the provision of FAPE to their child.
School districts must give parents a written notice (information received in writing), whenever the school district:
(1) Proposes to begin or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of your child or the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to your child; or
(2) Refuses to begin or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of your child or the provision of FAPE to your child.
What is included in PWN?
PWN is an explanation provided when the district wants to take an action, or when the district refuses to take the action. Prior Written Notice must include these 5 requirements:
- A description of the action that the school district proposes or refuses to take;
- An explanation of why the school district is proposing or refusing to take that action;
- A description of each evaluation procedure, assessment, record, or report the school district used in deciding to propose or refuse the action;
- A description of any other choices that the Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team considered and the reasons why those choices were rejected;
- A description of other reasons why the school district proposed or refused the action:
How can I use notice to better participate in the IEP process?
Always put requests in writing. Make sure each request is discussed.
- Using the five PWN requirements, ask and write down the answers given.
- For requests that were not approved or were tabled, ask for written notice.
- Requesting Prior Written Notice (letter template)
After an IEP meeting, write a letter to the school outlining the unapproved requests and your understanding of why they were turned down. If you did not receive adequate answers to your questions, say so.
- At the end of the letter ask the school district to respond to your letter if they disagree with your understanding of the discussion.
What does this mean in Michigan?
Michigan Department of Education offers these model forms and guidance. Your district may not use these exact forms, but the required 5 pieces of information need to be included in whatever notice looks like in your district.
What about signing the IEP?
Although the signature lines have been removed on an IEP form, it is important to remember, parents do not lose their due process rights. The law does not require that parents sign the IEP, except for the first one (called “initial”).
I understand Notice is important. Where can I learn more?
More information and tips:
- Prior Written Notice (CPIR)
- Prior Written Notice is a Powerful Tool (Wrightslaw article)
- What to Do When the School Says No (Wrightslaw article)