IEEs: Parents Have the Right to Select an Evaluator of Their Choice

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The school evaluated my child and I don’t agree with the results. What can I do? Will I have to pay for another evaluation? Who will do the evaluation?

If you disagree with the school district’s evaluation and/or recommendations, you have the right to request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at the school district’s expense.

The IEE must be conducted by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the school district.

OSEP issued a letter to clarify that parents have the right to select an evaluator of their choice. The regulation about the parental right to an independent educational evaluation is 34 CFR §300.502.

Note: This policy letter cites the 1999 federal special education IEE regulations contained in 34 CFR 300.502. In 2006 the regulations were revised. They are the same citation, i.e., 34 CFR 300.502, however there are some changes so you will want to look at the precise wording of the 2006 IEE regulation to determine any possible differences.

Parent Right to an IEE

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition,
34 CFR Section 300.502, page 252-253

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In a nutshell, parents have the right to select an evaluator of their choice.

In some cases, the evaluator may not meet agency criteria. The district has the option of requesting a due process hearing to get a ruling that their evaluation was sufficient. If the district does not take that step, it must pay the cost of the IEE.

There is no provision in the law that allows districts to limit the cost or that requires parents to pay a portion of the cost of an IEE.

It is not inconsistent with IDEA for a district to publish a list of the names and addresses of evaluators that meet agency criteria, including reasonable cost criteria. This can be an effective way for agencies to inform parents of how and where they may obtain an IEE.

Parent’s Right to Choose

In order to ensure the parent’s right to an independent evaluation, it is the parent, not the district, who has the right to choose which evaluator on the list will conduct the IEE.

We recognize that it is difficult, particularly in a big district, to establish a list that includes every qualified evaluator who meets the agency’s criteria.

Therefore, when enforcing IEE criteria, the district must allow parents the opportunity to select an evaluator who is not on the list but who meets the criteria set by the public agency.

In addition, when enforcing IEE criteria, the district must allow parents the opportunity to demonstrate that unique circumstances justify the selection of an evaluator that does not meet agency criteria.

In some instances, the only person qualified to conduct the type of evaluation needed by the child may be an evaluator who does not meet agency criteria.

For example, because children must be assessed in all areas related to the suspected disability, there may be situations in which some children may need evaluations by an evaluator who does not meet agency criteria.

In such situations, the public agency must ensure that the parent still has the right to the IEE at public expense and is informed about where the evaluation(s) may be obtained.

If a parent elects to obtain an IEE by an evaluator not on the public agency’s list of evaluators, the public agency may initiate a due process hearing to demonstrate that the evaluation obtained by the parent did not meet the public agency criteria applicable for IEEs or there is no justification for selecting an evaluator that does not meet agency criteria.

If the public agency chooses not to initiate a due process hearing, it must ensure that the parent is reimbursed for the evaluation.

Sample Letter to Request an Evaluator Not on the School List

A few years ago, Gary Mayerson (an attorney in NYC) wrote a book about how to advocate for children with disabilities. He included a sample letter that parents can use to request an IEE by an evaluator who is not on the school’s “approved list,” or when parents are advised that they must use an evaluator on the school’s “approved list.”

You can tailor this letter to your circumstances.

Download this policy letter about Independent Educational Evaluations and Evaluators from the U. S. Department of Education site at:
http://www.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/letters/2004-1/parker022004iee1q2004.doc

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Suzanne

My district will not allow an Independent Evaluation at Public expense unless the private evaluator purchases a very expensive liability insurance first. This is restricting parents the right to choose extremely qualified independent evaluators who already have their own liability insurance for their private practice. what can a parent do?

Courtney

Hello – we are in a Texas public school and at the end of last year my son’s teacher and Dyslexia teacher asked that I get him tested over the summer to speed the process up. They stated that if I waited on the school to test him it would takes months for him to get the accommodations needed for Dyslexia. We got him tested and he was diagnosed with Dyslexia and AD/HD (he is now on meds and it’s helped greatly with the concentration & focus). The school is offering 504 for the AD/HD but denying the Dyslexia. They want to re-test him but it could take months. How should I handle and if I have this eval and diagnosis that I paid for shouldn’t the district accommodate? We have a mtg w the district next week and need some key points to argue.

sonya

I had my son evaluated outside of the school and they did not recognize most of the diagnosis. The only one they did recognize is the ADD due to his family doctor putting him on meds for it. So what is the point of outside evals? they wont accept them.

Robert

I am seeing in my practice [more and more] the districts are attempting intimidate local 3rd-party providers so, those so-called IEE providers want to have nothing to do with working with the parents. How do the districts seek to intimidate? They pay slow; they don’t grant reasonable access to the child in question to do mandatory observations, they require the 3rd-party [so-called] independent providers to submit their reports to the district first…just to name three. By the time many of these districts get though with this process they make it impossible to get a third party provider interested in doing IEE’s for parents. No choice, no independence is not what it is needed. Anybody, any ideas?

Olivia

I am having a similar issue with my sons district. They approved an IEE and we chose the evaluators. Now that we are completing the IEE, we are being told by the evaluators that they can’t go over the results with us until the district first receives the report. Then once they receive it we get a copy from the district. What? Also that they are only allowed to provide strategies on how to work with our son at school not recommendations or services because the district is the one paying for the IEE not us. What?
This totally sounds absurd. This is not what we discussed before the IEE started. I asked if the district told them this. They said yes. Should I question the district and should I be considering having an attorney involved?