This responsibility holds true whether the school board is referring the child for testing and evaluation or whether they’re planning to place the child into a special education program or remove him or her from one. It is also a necessary step they must take upon reaching a decision when a parent has requested a change in the child’s IEP.

Some criteria for the PWN, according to the special education law are:
  • It must be written in the parent or guardian’s native language.
  • It must explain in detail why changes are being made or why evaluation is recommended.
  • If the parent has requested the change or evaluation then the PWM must address whether the change will be made or it must give explanation as to why changes will not be made.
  • It must include a complete description of evaluation procedures, assessments, records or reports used in reaching a decision.
  • The PWN must be issued within 15 days of a decision and parents or guardians must receive the notice at least 15 days prior to any changes being made to the child’s IEP.
  • If the parent or guardian has made the requested change, then the Prior Written Notice must be furnished within 20 days of that request.

Upon receipt of the notice, parents or guardians who are dissatisfied with the decision may then request mediation or due process, or both. If the decision is a matter of discipline, an expedited due process hearing can be filed for. This means that the dispute will be heard more quickly than a normal due process hearing request.

If a dispute arises after receipt of the Prior Written Notice (PWN), and an appropriate request is filed by the parents within 15 days, the child will remain in his or her current placement until the matter is resolved. Therefore, it’s important for parents to be aware of their rights as well as of the rights of their child to receive free and appropriate public education (FAPE). To assist in understanding what their rights are, parents of special educational needs children should request an informational manual or packet from their school district or school board.