Prior written notice is a document outlining important school district decisions about your student’s special education program. It is not a meeting invitation. School districts must provide you with prior written notice after a decision has been made regarding matters affecting your student’s IEP, but before a decision is implemented or changes to your student’s program take place.
Prior written notice must be provided in your native language or other mode of communication that you understand.
+ When is prior written notice required?
There is no exhaustive list outlining when prior written notice is required; however prior written notice must be provided a reasonable time before the school district:
- Proposes to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of your student or the provision of a FAPE to your student; or
- Refuses to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of your student or the provision of a FAPE to your student.
+ What can I expect in a prior written notice?
A prior written notice will document that full consideration has been given to any input or information you provided regarding your student’s educational needs, and clarifies that a decision has been made. It must explain why the district proposes or refuses to take action by (1) describing the options the district considered and (2) explaining its reasons for accepting or rejecting those options. The prior written notice should also document any disagreements with you and should clearly describe the reasons for this disagreement.
+ What are some examples of prior written notice?
Some examples of when you will receive prior written notice are:
- Your student is referred for an evaluation because of a suspected disability and the potential need for special education;
- The district wants to evaluate or reevaluate your student;
- The district is refusing to evaluate or reevaluate your student;
- Your student’s IEP or placement is being changed;
- You have asked to make a change to your student's IEP and the district is refusing to make the change;
- You have given the district written notice that you are revoking consent for your child to receive special education services.
+ Is prior written notice required before we have an IEP meeting?
Prior written notice is not a meeting invitation. After a meeting, however, the district must provide prior written notice to you of the decisions made as a result of the meeting. Prior written notice is particularly important following an IEP Team meeting. If the content of an IEP reflects a district’s decision not to provide certain services to your student, or if the district refuses to make the changes you are requesting to an IEP, then the district must provide prior written notice to you of their decision.