Parents who have received a prior written notice from their school districts may be filled with dismay over what this means for their special needs children. Learning more about what this is, how it is backed by law and what recourse these parents have can clear up some of this confusion while also keeping parents’ stress levels as low as possible.
The Prior Written Notice of Refusal, sometimes referred to as PWNR, is a part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. It is a small part of one law know as Prior Written Notice. There are two main parts to this law. In the first part, parents are required to be notified if the school district is going to change the evaluation of the child. In the second part, parents are required to be notified if the school district refuses to place the child in special education or refuses to provide special education. The second part is often the most concerning and is the one referred to as PWNR.
The reason this second part is most concerning is that school districts most often fail to follow the law for this one. Ideally, this PWNR should be given to the parents several days before it goes into effect to give them time to plan for the change and to question the refusal if necessary. It should also be given in writing and should be very clear. For example, if the IEP is being changed, the written notice should list exactly what is being changed. Additionally, the notice should give reasons for the change or for the limitation of or refusal to continue special education services.