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Prior Written Notice

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Definition: Prior Written Notice (PWN) is what your school district must give you, by law, before making changes in your child's special education program. IDEA requires that you receive PWN -- in your native language -- before your child is evaluated; before your child is moved from a special-education to a regular-education classroom or vice versa; before changes are made in services like speech, physical or occupational therapy; and generally before anything specified in the IEP is altered. The PWN should explain in detail why the changes are being made -- and, if you are the one requesting a change, why the change will not be made. This gives you an opportunity to respond before your child is affected by the proposed changes. If you're hearing about major disruptions of your child's planned program long after the fact, or only by accident, your district is violating special education law and you have grounds for complaint.

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