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Informing Parents of IEP Team Actions

Parents must receive written notice when a district or AEA proposes or refuses to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, or placement of a child or the provision of a free appropriate public education.  

A Prior Written Notice: 

  • Provides information on what actions the LEA/AEA is proposing/refusing
  • Must be given to parents after the IEP decision and prior to the implementation of the proposed/refused action
  • Allows parents time to respond to the changes

Content revised July 2021

Information Required in Prior Written Notice

The prior written notice must include the following information: 

  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
  4. A statement that the parents have protection under the due process provisions of special education and, if this notice is not an initial referral for evaluation, how the parent may obtain a copy of the description of the procedural safeguards
  5. Sources for parents to contact to obtain assistance in understanding the provisions of the laws and rules
  6. A description of other options that the IEP team considered and the reasons why those options were rejected
  7. A description of other factors that are relevant to the agency’s proposal or refusal
  8. The notice requires parents to be informed where they can get a copy of the procedural safeguards

Prior written notice will be provided to the parent(s) via a written letter, form, or email (per parent request and signed consent to receive electronic communication). 

In Iowa, the Consent for Full and Individual Initial Evaluation and the Consent for/Notice of Reevaluation forms have been designed to document both prior written notice of the proposed evaluation and parent consent.

Prior written notice must be written in language understandable to the general public and provided in the parent's native language or another mode of communication unless clearly not feasible.

If the parent’s native language or other mode of communication is not a written language, the public agency must ensure and have written evidence that both the: 

  • Prior written notice was translated orally by other means into the parent’s native language or another mode of communication
  • Parent(s) understood the content of the notice


Examples of when a PWN is Required

Examples of actions and refusals requiring Prior Written Notice:

  • A decision not to conduct an initial evaluation
  • Change in services or placement, including consent for initial special education services
    • NOTE: The Consent for Initial Service is a stand-alone form that must be completed prior to the delivery of special education services for an eligible learner.
  • Addition or discontinuation of service (including exit due to parent revocation of consent, graduation, etc.)
  • Change in the model of delivery of service, e.g.:
    • Mode – such as direct to indirect
    • Special education classroom to a general education classroom
    • Addition, deletion or change of ESY services
    • Addition or deletion of a goal or goal area
  • Change in a related service:
    • Transportation
    • Behavior plan
    • Special health plan
    • Assistive technology
  • Amendment to an existing IEP
  • Whenever discipline results in a change of placement

Examples of when a PWN is NOT Required

Examples of actions and refusals not requiring Prior Written Notice:

  • Change of qualified service provider
  • Changes or updates of goals and objectives that do not change services
  • Change in location of service not controlled by school agency:
    • Foster care
    • Hospitalization
    • Parent relocation
  • Change in location of service which does not change service:
    • Different classroom
    • Age/grade-appropriate movement (peer promotion to middle/junior/senior high)

Note: The determination of the significance of the change(s) must be determined on a case by case basis. Each IEP team must use professional judgment in this decision. In instances of questioned significance, best practice would be to document the decisions of the IEP team using a Prior Written Notice form.

Prior Written Notice Resources

Find more information regarding prior written notice, including translations of the PWN, on the Resources page.