If there is a disagreement about a child's identification, evaluation, or placement, the school must provide the parents with "prior written notice."
Prior written notice describes what the school proposed or refuses to do about the identification, evaluation, or educational placement or your child, or providing your child with a free, appropriate public education (FAPE). This term may be easier to understand if you think of it as "written notice."
This notice includes several required components. The notice must:
- Explain what the school proposes or refuses to do and their alternative proposal, if any
- Describe the school's rationale and each evaluation procedure, assessment, record, or report used as the basis of their proposal or refusal
- Describe all other options the IEP team considered and the reasons why the team rejected these options
- Describe any other factors that were relevant to the school's proposed action or refusal to act
- Include a statement that the parents of a child with a disability have protections under procedural safeguards and how the parent scan obtain a copy of the procedural safeguards
- Include sources that parents can contact or help in understanding the provisions of prior written notice
Schools often fail to provide prior written notice when parents request more services or different services.
IDEA 2004 strengthened prior written notice requirements and requires schools to provide this notice in the event of a due process hearing.