Are you the parent of a child with learning disabilities or autism?
Have you been fighting for an educational service that your child
needs, such as Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), or a Orton-
Gillingham based reading program? This article will discuss how to use
prior written notice (PWN), to help your child get needed educational
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires that PWN
contain 6 things:
1. Description of the action proposed or refused by
2. An explanation of why the agency proposes or refuses to
take action. Also a description of what tests or reports the agency
is using as a basis for the proposed or refused action.
3. Copies of
procedural safeguards given to parents.
4. Sources where parents can
get help understanding PWN.
5. A description of other options
discussed and rejected and reasons for the rejection. 6. A description
of the factors, that are important to the agency’s proposal or
Below are ways that you can use PWN to get an educational service that
your child needs:
a. There are a couple of ways to use 1. to your benefit. Since the
notice must be in writing, you will have documentation, that you
believe your child needs a certain service. Documentation is critical,
for you to win a dispute with special education personnel.
For example: You are at an Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting
asking for ABA for your 3 ½ year old son with autism. School
personnel refuse to even discuss it. Ask for PWN, to be sent to you
within 7-10 days, and this will document your request.
If you tell them that they need to give you PWN, then they will be
unable to ignore you, which happens, sometimes. If school personnel
drag their feet on PWN, type one up, and send it to the school
yourself. This is creating more documentation of your request, and
their refusal to provide the needed service, or even discuss it.
b. 2. States that PWN must contain why special education personnel are
refusing a service. This is important, because school personnel will
have to come up with a believable excuse, and put it in writing. This
may also lock them into why, they are refusing the service, and can be
used as evidence, at a due process hearing.
2. Also states, that disability educators must list what evaluations,
assessments or reports, that they are basing there decision on. This
requirement will prevent special education personnel, from making
unilateral decisions, without a basis for the decision. Even if they
do make the unilateral decision, they may have to defend this decision
at a due process hearing, if you decide to pursue it.
c. 5. States that school personnel must list what options they
considered and why they were rejected. Special education personnel
often make unilateral decisions based on nothing, and give no options.
You can use this, to make sure that they put in writing, what options
they discussed, and why they were rejected.
By understanding PWN and how to use it to help your child, you will be
able to be an effective advocate, for your child.