November 4, 2018|IEP, PRIOR WRITTEN NOTICE (PWN), IDEA, PUBLIC SCHOOL, SPECIAL EDUCATION

In our Facebook group for parents of public school students, IEP Assistance and Special Needs Parenting Advice, the topic of Prior Written Notice comes up quite often! Prior Written Notice (PWN) is a powerful tool when you know how to use it!

What is a PWN?

PWN is a form the school should use to track all proposals to change the identification (special education classification of disability), to perform an evaluation, educational placement (LRE), or the provision of Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to the child.  A PWN is also required when the public agency (the school) refuses to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the child or fails to provide FAPE to the child.

AESA has developed a parental tracking tool for items that need to be accounted for in a PWN. This form is useful since you can write your requests for your child down and have a way to track the actions of the school. You can find the PDF version of the file at our IEP group or you should be able to save the image below for your use.

Prior Written Notice Tracker Form
Prior Written Notice Tracker Form

What is contained in a PWN?

PWN is required to include the following information:

  • A description of the action proposed or refused by the school
  • An explanation of why the school proposes or refuses to take action
  • A description of each evaluation procedure, assessment, record, or report the school used as a basis for the proposal or refusal of the action
  • A statement that the parents have protections under Procedural Safeguards, and if this meeting is not an initial referral for evaluation, the means to obtain a copy of the Procedural Safeguards.
  • Sources for parents to contact to obtain assistance in understanding the description of other options that the IEP team considered and the reasons those options were rejected and a description of other factors that are relevant to the school’s proposal or refusal to take action.

Also Required in a PWN

PWNs are also required to be written in plain language.  This includes English or whatever is the native language of the parents. If the parent’s native language is not a written language (for example, sign language), then the school is required to make sure the language is translated orally (verbally) or by other means (such as an ASL interpreter), so the parent can understand the content of the notice.

Why is the PWN so Important?

The PWN tracker form is a way to make sure school staff attending the IEP meeting give full consideration to the request and suggestions of the parents.  I often hear parents complain that they made a request (more Speech, 1:1 para, social goals, request for AT assessment, etc.) and their request was dismissed with little consideration. The members of the IEP seem quick to say NO to the parents! One important fact the IEP team seems to forget, the parent(s) is part of the IEP team too.  As a equal member your ideas deserve full consideration and the PWN Tracker Form will help ensure that happens.

Giving “an explanation of why the agency . . . refuses to take the action and a description of each evaluation procedure, assessment, record, or report the agency used as a basis for the . . . refused action” [20 U.S.C. 1415(c)] is difficult for most school staff.  Schools rarely say they are refusing a parent’s request, but the school may say, we will “table” the request. Often this action will end in the school’s avoidance of the issue or flat refusal. This PWN form includes the space to mark the “Reject(ion)” of a request and gives you space to write an explanation of why the request was tabled and a date for the next consideration of the request. There is also a block to make additional notes as needed.

As an example of how the PWN form can be used:

We propose a one-on-one paraprofessional in order for Johnny Doe to obtain FAPE based upon the recommendations of pediatrician Dr. XXXX, pediatric neurologist Dr. XXXX, and clinical psychologist Dr. XXXX.”

By using the PWN form you will often get your request fulfilled because:

  • either our request is granted, or
  • we have developed a record that can help in future IEP meetings, Mediation, Due Process, or Court.

How to use the PWN Tracker Form

This is a parent’s Prior Written Notice (PWN) tracker. This form can be used to help the parent can keep up with requests they have written down prior to an IEP meeting, or during a special education meeting, so it can match the school’s PWN along with providing additional documentation for a paper trail. Write the proposed accommodation, modification or request in the first blank. When this item comes up in the meeting,  the IEP Team will consider the request and either accept or reject the request.  So the appropriate box should be marked.  The reason the proposal was accepted or rejected should be written in the Reason box. If the proposal was accepted then list the Start Date and under the Responsible Person you write WHO will be overseeing that (SPED teacher, Gen Ed Teacher, Admin, School Psychologist, etc) proposal.  If the proposal was rejected then write the person who made that decision in the Responsible Person box.  By law [34 CFR  §300.321(a)(4)], for an IEP team meeting to be legal, a representative of the school (public agency) who is qualified to provide or supervise the design of instruction, is knowledgeable about general education, and is knowledgeable about the availability of resources at the school (public agency).  This person is often the principal, but this role can be filled by others. If this person is not present, stop the meeting, and reschedule. Once the meeting is completed, ask for a copy of the notes taken by the school at the meeting (so you can review them and send any corrections by email the next day) and let them make a copy of this form (pages 1 and 2).  Then ask the school for a PWN detailing all the information in the form.  States have various versions of PWNs, but they ALL must include this same sort of information per Federal law [34 CFR 300.503].  If you need more guidance find us at www.AESA.group, our FB page AESA, or at our FB group IEP Assistance and Special Needs Parenting Advice.

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