Two questions keep coming to mind as I participate in IEP meetings for my daughter and for clients of William & Mary School of Law’s PELE Clinic:
1. How can I get my daughter’s IEP Team to take my suggestions more seriously?
2. How can I develop a record for clients whose children need extensive accommodations?
Essentially, IDEA 2004 requires the IEP team to formally and logically accept or reject any suggestions that a member of an IEP team makes. 34 C.F.R. § 300.503. And parents, we are members of the IEP team!
PWN is a powerful tool when skillfully used.
Of course, the first place I looked to answer my questions was Wrightslaw.com. A good article about Prior Written Notice (PWN) is How to Use a “Parent IEP Attachment” at http://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/tips/bonnell.iep.attach.htm.
I like the form created by Judy Bonnell and available on Wrightslaw. This is the type of form that I will use for my daughter’s next IEP meeting.
A More Extensive PWN Form – Includes “Tabled” Actions
I sensed with some clients, who require “big ticket” educational needs like private placement or a one-on-one paraprofessional, I needed a more extensive form to really get the IEP team’s attention and to develop the record for future action.
Bringing out the PWN form is a show stopper.
Saying “no” is too easy for some IEP teams. Articulating “an explanation of why the agency . . . refuses to take the action and a description of each evaluation procedure, assessment, record, or report the agency used as a basis for the . . . refused action” (20 U.S.C. 1415(c)) is tough. As an advocate, I can remain nice and let the law be the bad guy!
Schools rarely say straight up that they are refusing a parental request, while “tabling” the request often means the same thing. This PWN form wisely includes refusing/tabling a request and requires an explanation of why the request was tabled and a date for the next consideration of the request.
I typically type out the request on the PWN form:
“We propose a one-on-one paraprofessional in order for Johnny Doe to obtain FAPE based upon the recommendations of pediatrician Mark Meese, pediatric neurologist Sylvia Green, and clinical psychologist Steven Marcus.”
Finally, with the PWN form we always come away with a victory:
- either our request is granted, or
- we have developed a record that can help in future IEP meetings, mediation, due process, or court.