Wrightslaw l No Child Left Behind l IDEA 2004 l Fetaweb l Yellow Pages for Kids l Harbor House Law Press

 Home >  Topics  > Safeguards > Throwing the Flag - What to Do When the School Says "No" by Pete Wright, Esq.


The Special Ed Advocate
It's Unique ... and Free!

Enter your email address below:

 

2015 Training Programs

Jan 16 - School District, LA

Jan 24 - Corpus Christi, TX

Jan 24 - Pensacola, FL

Jan 31 - Champaign, IL

Feb 19 - Lincroft, NJ

Feb 24 - Knoxville, TN

Feb 26 - Memphis, TN

Full Schedule

Be a Hero ...

 Jason at Ft. Benning
... to a Hero
Learn more

Wrightslaw

Home
Topics from A-Z
Free Newsletter
Seminars & Training
Consultations
Yellow Pages for Kids
Press Room
FAQs
Sitemap

Books & Training

Wrightslaw Books & DVDs
Wrightslaw Storesecure store lock
  Advocate's Store
  Student Bookstore
  Exam Copies
Training Center
Bulk Discounts
New! Military Discounts
Mail & Fax Orders

Advocacy Library

Articles
Doing Your Homework
Ask the Advocate
FAQs
Newsletter Archives
Summer School Series
Success Stories
Tips

Law Library

Articles
Caselaw
IDEA 2004
No Child Left Behind
McKinney-Vento Homeless
FERPA
Section 504
Fed Court Complaints

Topics

Advocacy
ADD/ADHD
Allergy/Anaphylaxis
Assistive Technology
Autism Spectrum
Behavior & Discipline
Bullying
College/Continuing Ed
Damages
Discrimination
Due Process
Early Intervention (Part C)
Eligibility
ESY
Evaluations
FAPE
Flyers
Future Planning
Harassment
High-Stakes Tests
Homeless Children
IDEA 2004
Identification & Child Find
IEPs
ISEA
Juvenile Justice
Law School & Clinics
Letters & Paper Trails
LRE/Inclusion
Mediation
Military / DOD
No Child Left Behind
NCLB Directories
NCLB Law & Regs
Parental Protections
PE and Adapted PE
Privacy & Records
Procedural Safeguards
Progress Monitoring
Reading
Related Services
Research Based Instruction
Response to Intervention (RTI)
Restraints/Abuse
Retention
Retaliation
School Report Cards
Section 504
Self-Advocacy
Teachers & Principals
Transition
Twice Exceptional (2e)
VA Special Education

Resources & Directories

Advocate's Bookstore
Advocacy Resources
Directories
  Disability Groups
  International
  State DOEs
  State PTIs
Free Flyers
Free Pubs
Free Newsletters
Legal & Advocacy
Glossaries
   Legal Terms
   Assessment Terms
Best School Websites

 
Throwing the Flag - What to Do When the School Says "No"
by Pete Wright, Esq.

Print this page

When Schools Fail to Provide Prior Written Notice (PWN)

Ref throws a flagAt a recent Wrightslaw Boot Camp, we reviewed the Procedural Safeguards in the IDEA, including the Prior Written Notice (PWN) protections .

A parent had a question. She said she did not agree with the school's proposed IEP, the school refused to change the IEP, so she needed to file for due process. Her advocate advised that she could not file for due process until after the school provided Prior Written Notice (PWN).

The parent and her advocate wrote several letters to the school to request PWN. The school did not respond.

Three months passed before the parent requested a due process hearing.

The parent believed that the school had blocked her requested for a due process hearing. She was angry and frustrated. After we discussed the Prior Written Notice and the Due Process Hearing Notice statutes (IDEA at 1415(b)(3) and 1415(c); see pages 108-110 in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law), the parent said "I think my advocate was wrong."

She was right. She could have requested the due process hearing when the dispute arose, without waiting months for the school to respond.

Power of the Person Who Holds the Pen

I explained that the person with power is the person who holds the pen (who writes letters and drafts papers). Instead of waiting for the school to respond to her concerns and objections, this was an opportunity for the parent to write her own Prior Written Notice letter, incorporating the elements of the PWN statute ...

1. Content of Prior Written Notice

(A) a description of the action proposed or refused by the agency;
(B) an explanation of why the agency proposes or refuses to take the action and a description of each evaluation procedure, assessment, record, or report the agency used as a basis for the proposed or refused action;
(C) a statement that the parents of a child with a disability have protection under the procedural safeguards of this part and, if this notice is not an initial referral for evaluation, the means by which a copy of a description of the procedural safeguards can be obtained;
(D) sources for parents to contact to obtain assistance in understanding the provisions of this part;
(E) a description of other options considered by the IEP Team and the reason why those options were rejected; and
(F) a description of the factors that are relevant to the agency’s proposal or refusal.
(20 U.S.C. 1415(c)(1))  (see page 109 in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law)

Sample Prior Written Notice Letter

In most cases, I suggest that parents not refer to the PWN statute in their letter. Instead, they should write a letter that tracks the PWN statute -- like this:

Dear Dr. Smith:

We appreciate the IEP team meeting with us on March 15. I want to clarify my understanding of what we agreed to, and the areas where we did not reach agreement.

We requested that the IEP Team increase our child's speech language therapy from one 15 minute session of group speech therapy a week to three 45 minute sessions of one-to-one speech therapy a week,

We base this request on the two speech language evaluations. The first evaluation was by Dr. X (dated xxx). The second speech language evaluation was conducted by Dr. Y (dated xxx)I have attached both evaluations to this letter.

We provided seven copies of these evaluations to the IEP Team 5 days before the meeting so the team members would have time to review the findings and recommendations.

However, during the meeting, IEP Team discussed their belief that my child does not need 15 minutes of group speech therapy a week. The team discussed discontinuing all speech therapy altogether. I'm sure you understand that we were very distressed.

At the end of the meeting, the IEP Team decided to continue providing 15 minutes of group speech language therapy. The team ignored and rejected all recommendations made by Dr. X and Dr. Y.

If my understanding of what the team agreed to provide is incorrect, please let me know.

The IEP Team said they made this decision based on one classroom observation of my child on the day before the IEP meeting by Dr. Jackson, Central Office Director of Speech Language Services. The team did not rely on any new evaluations, assessments, records, or reports, although they had the two evaluations that I provided before the IEP meeting.   

Other than our request to increase speech therapy to three 45 minute sessions a week, the only option that the Team considered and subsequently rejected was to completely discontinue speech language therapy.

If the Team considered and rejected other options, or other factors affected their decision, I am not aware of them.

Other factors, unknown to me, may have caused the IEP Team to reject our request for an increase in speech language services. If I missed other options the IEP Team considered and rejected, please let me know these options and why the Team rejected them. 

If you do not advise me to the contrary, I will assume that the Team did not consider other options or factors. After ignoring and rejecting the recommendations in the two new evaluations that I provided, the only new information considered was the 20 minute observation by Dr. Jackson.

Again, if I am mistaken or made erroneous assumptions or conclusions, please let me know.

Sincerely,

Pamela Darr

Hand delivered on March 20, 2011 to the office of the Principal, Falling Creek Middle School


Our advocacy book, Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, includes 16 sample letters. Several of these letters can be modified into a Prior Written Notice letter by using your facts.

Critical Evidence Letters

We advise parents not to send key evidence letters by certified or registered mail. Hand-deliver these letters to the school. We describe why and how to do this on on pages 229 and 246 of Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy.

I always have my parents write and deliver their letters. Letters written by a parent are more persuasive and carry greater weight than letters from an attorney or advocate. I have my parents write the first draft of their letter. I will review the letter and make suggestions about information to include and rephrase.

Tip: After you write the first draft of an important letter, put it away for 24 hours. When you re-read it you will view your letter more objectively.

Tip: Ask a friend to read your letter. After reading the letter, ask your friend to answer these questions:

  • What is the purpose of my letter?
  • What do I want?
  • Why I am making this request?

If your friend cannot answer these questions, you need to revise your letter before delivering it to the school.

To Top

Revised: 03/16/11
Created: 02/15/11

What's New!

Now Shipping!

Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments
About the Book

Check it out!

Wrightslaw Store

The Advocate's Store

Get Help!

Blog the Wrightslaw

Wrightslaw on Facebook

Find us on Facebook

Wrightslaw Books

Student Discounts

Military Discounts


Wrightslaw: All About IEPs

About the Book
To Order

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright
About the Book
To Order


About the Book

To Order


Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board

About the DVD Video
To Order


To Order


Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind

About the Book
To Order

Wrightslaw Multimedia Training


Understanding Your Child's
Test Scores (1.5 hrs)

Understanding Your Child's Test Scores

Learn More
To Order
Retail Price: $
24.95
Wrightslaw Special: $14.95

Special Education Law & Advocacy Training
(6.5 hrs)


Wrightslaw WebEx Special Education Law & Training Program (6.5 hrs)


Learn More
To Order
Retail Price: $99.95
Wrightslaw Special: $49.95