PRIOR WRITTEN NOTICE: AN IMPORTANT TOOL FOR PARENTS
Have you ever asked your child’s IEP team to do something related to your child’s education/IEP and not gotten a satisfactory response or any response at all? If so, then it’s possible the district is violating your rights to PRIOR WRITTEN NOTICE. The IDEA, our federal special education law, is intended to ensure full involvement of parents in educational decision making about their child.
One way the law tries to ensure parents are truly involved is through Prior Written Notice. The term is confusing because it’s notice you get AFTER an IEP team meeting but refers to notice the school district must give you prior to taking certain actions like, changing services or placement, conducting assessments, or making decisions about eligibility or disability coding.
BUT the law also requires that if you ask the school/district to do something related to your child’s educational programming/IEP (for example, requesting an increase in speech therapy) the school is required to
- FORMALLY accept or reject your request/proposal in writing;
- Describe all other options considered by the IEP Team and the reason why those options were rejected;
- list the reasons for accepting or rejecting your proposal; AND
- list each evaluation procedure, assessment, record, or report they used as a basis for the refused or accepted action.
That means that a team can’t just table your request or say they disagree. They must provide you a reason, in writing, that is supported by data that shows your child doesn’t need what you are requesting. So, next time you’re at your child’s IEP meeting and you make a suggestion or a request that isn’t agreed to during that meeting, ask the team for “prior written notice” as described above and on page 2 and 3 of the Parental Rights Handbook (which the school should be offering you at every IEP team meeting, and can also be found here: https://www.marylandpublicschools.org/programs/Documents/Special-Ed/mpsn/MDProceduralSafeguardsNoticeEnglish.pdf