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Did you know that Prior Written Notice is required to be provided by your Local Educational Agency (“LEA”) to the parents of a student whenever it proposes to initiate or change, or refuses to initiate change, the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the student, or the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education (“FAPE”) to the student?  (34 CFR 300.503(a))

When is Prior Written Notice needed?

Any time the

  • identification,
  • evaluation,
  • educational placement, or
  • services

of a child with special needs is proposed (or refused) to be initiated or changed, the Parents of the child must be given Prior Written Notice.  The Notice must be given a reasonable time before the LEA changes the student’s placement or the provision of FAPE to the student.

For example, you must receive this notice:

—when the school would like to conduct an initial evaluation of your child;

—when you’ve asked for your child to be evaluated and the school denies your request;

—when the school wants to begin or change your child’s identification as a “child with a disability”;

—when the school proposes or refuses a particular educational placement for your child;

—when the school wants to change your child’s educational placement;

—when the school wants to change aspects of the special education or related services that your child is receiving; and

—when the school refuses a request from you, as parents, with respect to the educational services your child is receiving.

What must the Prior Written Notice contain?  [34 CFR 300.503 (b)]

The Notice must contain:

  • Description of the action proposed or refused by the LEA;
  • Explanation for the proposal or refusal,
  • Description of each evaluation procedure, assessment, record, or report the agency used as basis for the proposal or refusal;
  • Statement that the parents of a disabled child are entitled to procedural safeguards and how parents can obtain a copy;
  • Resources for parents to contact to obtain assistance in understanding these provisions;
  • Description of other options that the IEP team considered and the reasons why those choices were rejected; and
  • Description of other factors relevant to the refusal.

The Notice must be provided in understandable language.  [34 CFR 300.503(c)]

What is the Purpose of the Prior Written Notice?

The purpose of the Prior Written Notice requirement is to ensure that parents receive sufficient information about the proposed change to reach an informed conclusion about whether it will provide an appropriate education.

If you or someone you know has questions about Prior Written Notice or concerns with a child’s educational program, call us for a consultation.

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