Wrightslaw l Every Student Succeeds Act l IDEA 2004 l Fetaweb l Yellow Pages for Kids l Harbor House Law Press

  Home > Topics > Evaluations > Independent Educational Evaluations - What? How? Why? Who Pays? by Wayne Steedman, Esq.


The Special Ed Advocate newsletter
It's Unique ... and Free!

Enter your email address below:

 

2016-2018 Training Programs

Dec 8 - OKC

Jan 26 - Lexington, SC

Feb 9 - Cocoa Beach, FL

Feb 23 - Phoenix, AZ

Mar 13 - Greensboro, NC

Mar 16 - Baltimore, MD

Full Schedule

Be a Hero ...

 Jason at Ft. Benning
... to a Hero
Learn more

Wrightslaw

Home
Topics from A-Z
Free Newsletter
Seminars & Training
Yellow Pages for Kids
Press Room
FAQs
Sitemap

Books & Training

Wrightslaw Storesecure store lock
  Advocate's Store
  Student Bookstore
  Exam Copies
Training Center
Bulk Discounts
New! Military Discounts
Mail & Fax Orders

Advocacy Library

Articles
Doing Your Homework
Ask the Advocate
FAQs
Newsletter Archives
Summer School Series
Success Stories
Tips

Law Library

Articles
Caselaw
IDEA 2004
No Child Left Behind
McKinney-Vento Homeless
FERPA
Section 504
Fed Court Complaints

Topics

Advocacy
ADD/ADHD
Allergy/Anaphylaxis
American Indian
Assistive Technology
Autism Spectrum
Behavior & Discipline
Bullying
College/Continuing Ed
Damages
Discrimination
Due Process
Early Intervention (Part C)
Eligibility
Episodic, such as
   Allergies, Asthma, etc

ESSA
ESY
Evaluations
FAPE
Flyers
Future Planning
Harassment
High-Stakes Tests
Homeless Children
IDEA 2004
Identification & Child Find
IEPs
ISEA
Juvenile Justice
Law School & Clinics
Letters & Paper Trails
LRE/Inclusion
Mediation
Military / DOD
Parental Protections
PE and Adapted PE
Privacy & Records
Procedural Safeguards
Progress Monitoring
Reading
Related Services
Research Based Instruction
Response to Intervention (RTI)
Restraints/Abuse
Retention
Retaliation
School Report Cards
Section 504
Self-Advocacy
Teachers & Principals
Transition
Twice Exceptional (2e)
VA Special Education

Resources & Directories

Advocate's Bookstore
Advocacy Resources
Directories
  Disability Groups
  International
  State DOEs
  State PTIs
Free Flyers
Free Pubs
Free Newsletters
Legal & Advocacy
Glossaries
   Legal Terms
   Assessment Terms
Best School Websites

 

Print this page

Independent Educational Evaluations:
What? Why? How? Who Pays?
by Wayne Steedman, Esq.


Parents and school officials are often confused about what an independent educational evaluation (IEE) is and how the evaluation should be used. This article addresses the right to an IEE, what constitutes an IEE, the value of an IEE, what the law requires of school districts, who is financially responsible for an IEE, and who can conduct an IEE.

evaluation of school girl

What is an IEE?

Federal regulations state unequivocally that parents of a child with a disability have a right to obtain an IEE. 34 C.F.R. 300.502(a)(1). An IEE is broadly defined as "an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the public agency responsible for the education of the child in question." 34 C.F.R. 300.502(a)(3)(i). An IEE may be obtained by parents at their own expense or at public expense as explained later in this article.

An IEE is not limited to evaluating only a child's academic or cognitive skills, but may include the evaluation of any skill related to the child's educational needs. Evaluations of neurological functioning, adapted physical education, sensory needs, behavior, aquatics, even music therapy, are but a few examples of the types of IEEs covered under the IDEA. Parents may obtain an IEE, for virtually any purpose if it impacts the child's education.

What is the Value of an IEE?

In amending the IDEA in 2004, Congress noted that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective, in part, by strengthening the role of parents in the educational decision-making process. 20 U.S.C. §1400(c)(5)(B). An IEE provides parents added authority at the IEP meeting.

One court held:

"[T]he failure to receive and consider parental information, including evaluations they may obtain, directly denies parents the pivotal role they should enjoy in the development of their child's placement. This role includes not only providing evaluations or other information, but discussing such information. Consideration of such outside information also ensures that a program is individualized and provides a check on the judgments being made by school officials regarding the child."

Community Consolidated Sch. Dist. No. 180
, 27 IDELR 1004, 1005-06.

Parent participation in the decision-making process is mandated by the Act. It constitutes a denial of a free appropriate public education if a school system significantly impedes the parents’ participation in the decision-making process. 34 C.F.R. §300.513(a)(2)(ii). In many cases, independent evaluations provide support for the parents' opinions and requests. When a school district refuses to consider an independent evaluation, it not only denies equal and meaningful input from the parents, but it also prevents important information from being considered by the IEP team that develops the IEP.

Parents are not the only ones to find IEEs valuable. Sometimes, school districts request IEEs when they lack the personnel or expertise to conduct a particular type of evaluation. A school district may seek an IEE to assuage parental concerns about the fairness or accuracy of an evaluation.

What is Required of School Districts?

The federal regulations direct school districts to inform parents of their right to obtain an IEE, where they may obtain an IEE and the agency criteria applicable to the IEE. 34 C.F.R §300.502(a)(2).

Consideration of parentally obtained evaluations by the IEP team is not discretionary, it is mandatory. 34 C.F.R. 300.503(c). ("If the parent obtains an independent educational evaluation at private expense, the results of the evaluation (1) Must be considered by the public agency in any decision made with respect to the provision of a [free appropriate public education] to the child.") (Emphasis added.)

This does not mean that the school district must accept the findings or recommendations in the IEE. It means that the IEP team must review the IEE and discuss it as appropriate.

In this regard, the requirements placed on school districts are fairly minimal.

Who is Financially Responsible for an IEE?

Parents may obtain an IEE at their own expense and, as noted above, the school district must consider it in making decisions regarding the child’s educational needs. However, the IDEA also has procedures which allow parents to obtain at IEE at public expense.

If the school district does not have the personnel or resources to conduct an evaluation that an IEP team has identified as needed, the school district must obtain a private evaluation at its own expense. Or, if the school district determines that an IEE is needed or should be conducted for any reason, in most situations, the school district has to pay for the evaluation. A hearing officer may also order an IEE in which case it will be at public expense. 34 C.F.R §300.502(d).

Who is Financially Responsible for an IEE When Parents & School Staff Disagree?

When the student’s parents disagree with the school district’s evaluation and request an IEE at public expense, the school district must pay for the IEE or request a due process hearing. 34 C.F.R §300.502(b)(2). In other words, the school district cannot simply refuse or ignore the parents' request for an independent evaluation. If the school district decides to request a due process hearing, it must do so “without unnecessary delay.” 34 C.F.R §300.502(b)(2). Failure to request a due process hearing in a timely manner, may result in a waiver by the school district to challenge the parents’ request for an IEE. See Pajaro Valley Unified School District v. J.S., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90840 (N.D. Cal. 2006).

If the school district requests a due process hearing, it has the burden of proof and must prove to a hearing officer that the school evaluation was sufficient. Even if the school district does not conduct an evaluation, the student’s parents may be entitled to an IEE at public expense if the school district refused to conduct evaluations. Haddon Township Sch. Dist. v. New Jersey Dept. of Edu., 67 IDELR 44 (N.J.S.C. 2006).

Finally, if a hearing officer orders an IEE during the course of a due process hearing, it will be conducted at public expense. Id.

Who Can Conduct an IEE?

The criteria under which an IEE is conducted, including the qualifications of the examiner, must be the same as the criteria that the school district uses for its evaluations. 34 C.F.R. §300.502(e). However, a school district cannot impose requirements for the private evaluator that could deny the parents’ right to the IEE. See OSEP Letter to Petska, 35 IDELR 191 (OSEP 2001). A school district may provide a list of qualified examiners to parents, but the parents are not restricted to that list. See Letter To Parker, 41 IDELR 155 (OSEP, 2004).

Conclusion

Independent educational evaluations can be a valuable tool for parents and school staff when used to determine a child's educational needs. The burden placed on school systems to consider a parentally obtained IEE is not severe. But, failure to give due consideration to a parentally obtained IEE can result in an invalid IEP.

One way that parents can act as equal participants in educational decision-making for their child is to obtain additional information from an IEE. School districts that welcome a parentally obtained IEE, rather than viewing it with suspicion or hostility, will benefit from the additional information the IEE provides. When parents and school personnel work together, this is always in the child's best interest.

Useful Resources

Learn more about evaluations, tests and testing.

Learn more about procedural safeguards
that are designed to protect the rights of children with disabilities.

To Top

About the Author

Wayne Steedman is a partner at The Steedman Law Group. His practice is devoted primarily to the representation of children with disabilities. He has represented his clients in administrative due process hearings and state and federal courts.

Mr. Steedman has written many articles about special education law and advocacy, including:

10 Tips: How to Use IDEA 2004 to Improve Education for Children with Disabilities

As a member of the Wrightslaw Speakers Bureau, Wayne provides training for parents, educators, advocates, attorneys, and others who want to ensure that children receive quality special education services.

His presentations include IDEA 2004: What You Don't Know CAN Hurt You.

Wayne and advocate Pat Howey also present
special education law and advocacy programs that focus on these areas:

* special education law, rights and responsibilities
* tests and measurements to measure progress & regression
* SMART IEPs
* introduction to tactics & strategies for effective advocacy

Learn more about Wrightslaw training programs.

Contact Info

Wayne Steedman, Esq.
The Steedman Law Group
Galleria Towers
1447 York Road, Suite 508
Lutherville, MD 21093
(401) 645-0625
http://www.steedmanlaw.net

To Top

Revised: 11/16/16

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon The Special Ed Advocate: It's Free!

 

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright
About the Book

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright
About the Book

Wrightslaw: All About IEPs
About the Book

Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments
About the Book

Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board
About the DVD Video

 

Copyright © 1998-2016, Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright. All rights reserved.

Contact Us | Press Mission l Our Awards l Privacy Policy l Disclaimer l Site Map

Christmas Sale
25% OFF



The Advocate's Store

Now Available in Print!

Order Print Edition from Amazon


Order PDF from Wrightslaw - Immediate Download

About the Book


Get Help!

Wrightslaw on FacebookWrightslaw on TwitterWrightslaw YouTube Channel 

Wrightslaw Books
Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright

About the Book

Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy
About the Book

Wrightslaw: All About IEPs
About the Book

Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments
About the Book

Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board
About the DVD Video

Student Discounts

Military Discounts


The Advocate's Store

Wrightslaw Multimedia Training


Understanding Your Child's
Test Scores (1.5 hrs)

Wrightslaw Special: $14.95

Wrightslaw Mutimedia Training Download


Special Education Law & Advocacy Training
(6.5 hrs)

Wrightslaw Special: $49.95