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Parental Disagreement with PWN Content

Jennifer Spears


What do you all do when you disagree with or there is an omission of a refusal in the PWN? I did see in one of the resources that the content of the PWN is at the discretion of the LEA so is it possible to specifically ask that they document a specific refusal on the PWN?


Parental Disagreement With the Contents of the Prior Written Notice The prior written notice is completed by the LEA, not the parents. It is based on the information which was provided by the parent, along with other members of the team, orally and/or written, during the decisionmaking processes associated with the evaluation, identification, placement, and provision of FAPE for their child. Therefore, parents do not have the right to require that something be included in the prior written notice that the division has chosen not to include. Neither do the parent(s) have an overriding veto regarding what the division has chosen to include in the prior written notice. In plain language, parents cannot require an LEA to add, subtract, or otherwise include information in the prior written notice if the LEA does not deem it necessary. Therefore, the LEA is left to its own discretion and judgment in deciding what is important enough and necessary to include in the prior written notice document.


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Here are my suggestions:

1) In the meeting itself (and I do realize in your specific case, it's too late for this, but just for future reference) whenever there is a refusal of a parent request (or anything else you think should be documented in a PWN), make sure to state very clearly, "Can you include that refusal (or whatever) in the PWN?"  Sometimes they're caught off guard and say "yes."  Either way, you have them "on record" as either agreeing to include it or not.  If they agree and it's not in the PWN you receive, follow up with an email reminding them that they agree to put it in the PWN.  [Sidenote:  Since it sounds like you're having problems with documentation following a meeting, you might want to consider recording future meetings.  Then regardless of the language in the PWN, refusals, etc., are documented.  I don't know what state you are in for purposes of telling you whether you have a right to record (you have the right if it's a one-party state), but even if you are in a one-party state, school districts can limit that right in a school board policy, such as requiring 24 hours' advance notice, so make sure you comply with any school policy on this issue.]

2) Although LEA's do have some discretion, they still have to follow the law regarding PWN's.  So use the language from the IDEA regarding PWN's, as well as any pertinent state regs or laws.  Also check your state Department of Education website, specifically special education compliance department (or just call), to see if they have put out any policies or guidelines regarding PWN's.  My state DOE has a very detailed list of what is required to be on a PWN.  If any of the IDEA language/state laws or state policies are on point with what you are asking for in the PWN, quote that language in your request for a correction.

3) If it is a PWN that requires parent signature (unfortunately, most don't), write a note below your signature that you disagree that XYY was not set forth on the PWN.  That way, XYZ effectively IS on the PWN.

4) ALWAYS follow up with an email after you receive a PWN that you disagree with detailing specifically what you feel is missing or incorrect (including the REASONS BEHIND the decisions - a very common requirement that is often lacking in PWN's, in my opinion) .  That's still documentation and the next best thing to having it in a PWN - and will hopefully be enough if your matter ever goes to due process, especially if the LEA wasn't following requirements set forth in the law regarding PWN's.


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On 12/19/2023 at 10:38 AM, Lisa Lightner said:

Write on the PWN. I write on them all the time.

What if they send the PWN digitally and refuse to add parent feedback? They've added it before, but are now refusing to add our reasons for declining additional testing outside of the retesting period.

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On 1/19/2024 at 4:29 PM, Lisa Lightner said:

Print it, add it, sign it...and return. There is nothing in IDEA that permits them to only accept digital items.


I apologize for getting so granular on the topic, but who's to say they won't just throw out the printed version? It doesn't require a signature, so they can say they didn't need to keep it. For what it's worth - it's the district special education contact now stepping in and saying they don't include parental feedback. Previously the school accepted it and included it. 

I've heard of people writing it in the IEP under parental concerns. I'm not sure this is appropriate, but I don't know where else it could be documented, and they haven't replied to my email asking this.

Thank you!

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You're right, there's not.


All we can do is continue to use the tools available to us--like writing on the PWN, putting it under parent concerns, covering our tracks by taking photos and taking notes and dating things when we do them.

At some point, yes, many families come to an impasse with their teams. You're going to have to decide how far you want to push this via complaint options, dispute resolution etc.



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