What's New

April 2019 – Directors Corner

April 24th, 2019

A lot of the information in this month’s e-News concerns Prior Written Notice. PWN is one of the most important parts of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and one of the most important parts of your student’s IEP. Changes are coming in the form that is used to record those IEPs and I wanted to discuss a little bit about why this is so important and what you can do to help make it better.

PWN is recorded on page 3 of the IEP form currently used here in Connecticut. It is supposed to include a record of every change to the services and placement of the student as those that were proposed and rejected by the team. Most importantly it should record every suggestion you made. IDEA requires the IEP to have a written record of every proposed action to “initiate or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the child or the provision of FAPE to the child” or refuses any of these steps.

The written notice must also include (1)A description of the action proposed or refused by the agency; (2) An explanation of why the agency proposes or refuses to take the action; (3) A description of each evaluation procedure, assessment, record, or report the agency used as a basis for the proposed or refused action; (6) A description of other options that the IEP Team considered and the reasons why those options were rejected; and (7) A description of other factors that are relevant to the agency’s proposal or refusal.

This is all the actual language from the Federal Regulation Section 300.503 if you want to look it up. You’ll notice I left out numbers 4 and 5, I’ll get to them in a minute.

It also makes clear that you must be able to understand the notice, and it must be communicated in your native language if that is needed. This means if you need it, the page must be translated for you. Perhaps more importantly what that means is: If you don’t understand; ask questions. You have a right to know.

If you look at page 3 of your child’s IEP one of the first things you will notice is that there is not a lot of space in which to give you that notice. There are a lot of check boxes and very small spaces. Those spaces should be filled with references to the test, evaluations and other data the team used to make those decisions, and the written copies of that information should be included with the IEP.

Getting back to numbers 4 and 5 in the regulation, the notice should also include notice of your rights, and who you can contact to have those rights explained. In Connecticut that’s CPAC, and if you look very closely at the bottom of the page you will find our name and phone number.

In addition to trying to describe what PWN notice means, what I am also trying to say is that CT’s current form can be difficult for most users to follow the decision made by the PPT. “What” the decision is can and should be stated clearly, the “why” of the decision, the information the team relied on to make its decisions can be more challenging to find in the document, and is sometimes not included, making the process difficult to understand.

The good news is that is going to change. The Bureau of Special Education is in the process of completely redesigning the IEP form. During the parent forums last year parents had the opportunity to discuss their impressions of special education. One of the most common concerns expressed was how challenging it was to find the relevant information on the current IEP form.

Very soon the Bureau is going to be presenting a draft of what a review team thinks a better IEP form should look like. More important they are going to be looking for feedback and suggestions on how to make it better. You as parents will have the chance to let them know what you think, and you should do so. You have the right to understand what your child’s IEP says and the Bureau will listen to you when you tell them how to make that work.

We will do all we can to make sure you know when your opportunities to offer comments will be. Check our web page regularly for updates. Another very good way to keep up to date is to follow our Facebook page. We provide insights and information every day and notices of events that may be important to you. So if you haven’t already follow us so we can keep you informed.