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What exactly is "Prior Written Notice"?

Updated: Apr 19, 2021

Prior Written Notice (PWN) is a procedural requirement under the Federal Regulations. It obligates School Districts to provide parents/guardians with notice when Districts are proposing or refusing “to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of [a] child or the provision of FAPE to [a] child.”

School Districts are required to include in any PWN the “W’s.” The who, what, where, why, and when. Specifically, the PWN should be sent in a timely manner. It should be a detailed description of why the proposal or refusal is or is not approved by the District. If the District has refused the requested action, the District must include a statement why, what the District proposes instead, the reasoning behind the District’s decision, any evaluations and reports or outside information that helped form that decision, who the decision makers were, and what the District is offering. The regulations make it clear what the Districts are required to include.

Failure of a District to provide PWN is a procedural violation. However, courts have found that the procedural violation may not rise to the level of a violation of FAPE if it did not interfere with your meaningful participation or your child did not suffer a loss due to the procedural violation.

Some PWN designations you will see include:

Notice of Proposed School District Action (N1)

Evaluation Consent Form (N1A)

Notice of School District Refusal to Act (N2)

Meeting Invitation (N3)


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