Include the Date
Often the prior written notice (PWN) form will have a date at the top when it is provided to the parent, but the date of the decision referenced in the PWN is often not included, leading to possible confusion.
Suggestion: Include in the wording of the PWN the date of the meeting when the decision to propose or refuse the action actually occurred, as the date when the PWN was written is not always the same as the date of the meeting when the decision took place.
It’s More Than Checking Off the Boxes
Although the use of PWN templates, drop-down menus and check-off boxes on PWNs is not prohibited by the regulations that implement the IDEA, the sole reliance on these can lead to misunderstandings and can damage relationships with parents. Often a PWN will only say that the school proposes to implement an IEP. This is problematic when the decision was to stop providing paraprofessional support, reduce speech services from 60 minutes/week to 30 minutes/month, or to remove accommodations.
Suggestion: If your school uses drop-down menus or PWN templates, supplement the information with specific details to ensure that the school is clearly communicating with parents, particularly when a service is added, removed or changed.
Avoid Nonsense Phrases
Often a prior written notice (PWN) will state that the school considered but then rejected not having an IEP meeting, not considering a parent’s suggestion, or not conducting the required three-year evaluation process. The PWN will then go on to state that such notions were rejected because these are required steps. It makes the school look silly to suggest that it seriously considered rejecting a requirement.
Suggestion: Take time when constructing a PWN so that it is clear and that all statements actually make sense and incorporate the actual thinking of the parties and any decisions that were made.