Can the District Limit What They Will Pay for an IEE?

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Can the school district set a predetermined dollar amount as a cap on the cost of an IEE?

No. 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 Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE).

The regulation about the parental right to an independent educational evaluation is 34 CFR §300.502 (Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, page 252-253).

A few years ago, OSEP issued a letter to clarify that parents have the right to select an evaluator of their choice.

Since the letter was written in 1994, the regulations cited were for IDEA 97, and may be slightly different in IDEA 2004.

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.

“Public expense means that the public agency either pays for the full cost of the evaluation or ensures that the evaluation is otherwise provided at no cost to the parent…”  34 CFR §300.502 (a)(1)(ii)

Selecting an Evaluator from the “Approved” List

In response to school policies that require parents to select an evaluator from a list of “approved evaluators,” the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) published this Policy Letter that clarifies that parents have the right to choose their independent evaluator.

On Wrightslaw, you will find the letter here:

Or you can download this policy letter about Independent Educational Evaluations and Evaluators from the U. S. Department of Education site at:

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.

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.

Choosing an Evaluator Not on the School’s List

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 these 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.

Therefore, 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.

A few years ago, Gary Mayerson (an atty 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.


  1. I am in Texas. I choose a psychological evaluator that was on the school district’s list. A week after I selected the evaluator the school district said they had a cap or $4000 for testing and the psychologist’s rate was $5000. They told me to select a new evaluator but I want the one that was on their list that I selected. Is there a spending cap? The psychological evaluator i sewlected says her rates are comparable to other’s in the area and even have performed IEEs in surrounding school districts.

  2. Question .what if you have a parent whose child qualifies SDD is 7 years old and receives services for speech, OT and reading wants an IEE because they believe their child has an LD in reading. we have explained that the child will be retested before their 9th birthday to determine any other eligibilities. they say he had a brain bleed at birth but have not provided us any medical documentation as of today. The student actually gets more services for SDD than LD so I am having a hard time understanding

    • Why not re-evaluate him early and determine now if he has a SLD? The regs say the child has to be evaluated before their 9th birthday- nothing in there that says they can’t be evaluated when 7.

    • Schools must respond yes or no quickly after they receive written (verbally in some states) requests for initial or additional testing, or an IEE. The IEP team is to consider a student’s needs regardless what label they have. If he is making adequate progress in the reading program, then his needs maybe being addressed. If he is not making adequate progress, then that needs to be addressed regardless of his label and additional testing.

  3. The district wants to wait until next year to do the triangular iep for my daughter and doesn’t want to pay for an IEE they said the evaluation that was done by the district it’s two years old and her services ending on December of this year and they’re planning to give an informal evaluation what is my right?

  4. I was told that my school District would pay for my sons IEE. I was told I had a choice of choosing from the list the school district had or someone I wanted. I picked an outside place and was then told my district had to contact them and send out a packet . The packet was a contract that the school district wanted my provider to sign. (MY IEE was a well know institution in New York ) The contract was written by my district and had to be signed by my sons provider. The legal team for my provider would not sign a contract with my school district because the contract was not legal. So after months of waiting for this to be solved which never happened. I was told to have it done and the school would pay me back. Well that was about 8 months ago . Still no money.

  5. We requested an IEE and were denied without the district taking us to due process. They claimed that our IEE request was outside of a “two-year statute of limitations.” I understand there is a 2-year limitation for claiming a violation of FAPE, but we weren’t doing that. We were asking for an IEE that would provide more information about our child’s emotional health because after 2 years on an IEP, it seemed to be significantly deteriorating. Can the District deny us this IEE?

    • This is a five-year old post. But here’s a reply for others liiking for information.

      In D.S. v. Trumbull Board of Education, the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit (Sept. 17, 2020), the court addressed two issues of first impression: “[W]hether an FBA is an ‘evaluation’ that triggers a parent’s right to an IEE at public expense [and] [a]s to [a] Triennial Reevaluation, whether the IDEA’s two-year statute of limitations for filing due process complaints applies to a parent’s IEE request.” 2020 WL 5552035, at * 6. It answered both questions in the negative.

      The court argued that “The time frame within which a parent must express their disagreement with an evaluation and request an IEE depends on how frequently the child is evaluated. . . . Where, as here, a child is evaluated according to the default evaluation timeline, the parent must disagree with an evaluation within that three-year timeframe. By contrast, should a parent and school agree that the child be evaluated on a more frequent basis, . . . the parent must disagree with any given evaluation before the child’s next regularly scheduled evaluation occurs.”

      This seems to be standing case law, at least in the Second District.

  6. Hi. I have been approved an IEE at public’s expense for my daughter. The kicker is, the district won’t pay for the evaluation until after it is completed and have fully read the report. That is part of the contract. I am having difficulty locating a provider that will conduct an IEE and is willing to wait for payment until district “agrees with/approves” the report, then finally pay if they do. The remedy to this is then that the parents have to pay for an IEE that was already approved to be provided at the public’s expense. Then the parent has to wait for reimbursement until the testing is completed and if the district approves the report. Is this even legal? If you ask me, it is a way for the district to create a loophole so they don’t have to pay for the IEE.

  7. Our district also limited the amount they would pay for the evaluators. They limited the cost of neuropsychological evaluations to a cost about $1,500 less than any evaluator will preform it at. As a result, they are taking all parents who request one to DP telling them their request violates the district policy. They are asking parents pay the cost difference and many parents are giving in and not having the evaluations preformed. The climate has become very hostile.

  8. I have a 13 years child with ( Autism ) , and I live in Michigan . Everything is very expensive here ,specially the therapy ,and evaluation for those kids.

    We asked to have the IEE evaluation for him, but want to pay only $ 1500 only for the psychological evaluation, but no doctor or specialist agreed on this amount because it’s very little amount. So, we sent our request to increase this cost, but they do not want to approve , they Arguing that : this is not a reasonable cost, it’s too much!.

    Are there any controls to determine the cost of the IEE,and what are (the strongest argument that parents should have) in order to convince the (special education department) to increase the IEE , and (how to know, or decide that this is a reasonable cost, or it’s too much), and who have to decide that ,on what basis ,and how.

  9. Pam,

    Your initial “No” is misleading for Massachusetts residents.

    Please see 603 CMR 28.04(5)(a): “All independent education evaluations shall be conducted by qualified persons who are registered, certified, licensed or otherwise approved and who abide by the rates set by the state agency responsible for setting such rates.”

    In Massachusetts, school districts must limit the amount paid for IEE’s and evaluators must agree that they will not bill parents for any additional costs of testing.

    Please note that the public rates in Massachusetts differ depending on whether the evaluator(s) is(are) part of a private agency or a medical facility.

    Perhaps a qualified “No” would be helpful to parents and advocates.

  10. If a school system refuses to test a child for special services, can they make the parents pay on their own for an outside evaluation? Even a teacher has requested an eval be done but the school system says lets wait and see for over a year now. The parents paid $300 for a private eval. What is their next step?

  11. We have a grandson that we have legal custody of and he is diagnosed ASD/ADHD and has an IEP. He has been mainstreamed this year with Special ED teacher one class per day. He is 10th grade and we are concerned about what he will be able to do after graduation. We have asked to have him aptitude tested so we can try to guide him toward a field he might qualify for. He has been enrolled in Honors English while reading well below grade level. We are beyond worried and are being shuffled toward the door or feel that way. On the school’s side the faces change every year and some time more often and the stonewalling continues. Any suggestions ? We need to know what he CAN do.

  12. My school district did not accept my IEE, and said it was against IDEA, though it was not. They stated they wanted to get their own IEE, which they stated I had no right to help decide. This was over a month ago. They still have not obtained an evaluator. I feel they are putting off the evaluation until after my son turns 21 or as long as possible. How long do they have to get teh evaluation done?

  13. the IEP meeting for my son was scheduled by an area education agency person. i will have an advocate with me from an outside agency. the same area person says he represents the school, which i corrected him saying no his job is to represent the family and the student. he said he didnt want to invite a million people to my sons iep meeting when i requested he invite the teacher they send to our home 3 hours a week. why a special ed teacher who does not work with my son will be at the meeting? cause one is required. the inhome teacher is not certified and my son is unable to attend school in a school setting. hm. also in attendance is a principal of the school he doesnt attend. the area guy is acting as a school psychologist for the same school. a behavior disorder school my son had been placed at incorrectly based on his disability.

  14. In Massachusetts, school districts can, and often do, cap the cost of an IEE by refusing to pay more than the hourly rate for testing established by the MA Rate-Setting Commission some 16 (!) years ago. This is so low that only a small handful of evaluators will accept it. The fact that they may meet public agency criteria, or that their services will be provided at no net cost, is a very far cry from the notion that parents are entitled to the evaluator of their choice. Not all evaluators are created equal….

  15. Patricia: I’m a little confused. You have students who are not placed appropriately? Re: “drive by observations”, does a person observe once, then say the student doesn’t need a program or service?

    The IEP team makes decisions about the services a student needs. The team must include the special ed teacher. As the teacher who is most knowledgeable about a student, you can request multiple observations at different times. This link will take to an article with good info about observations:

    The team cannot make placement decisions until after all other decisions about the IEP are made. The law does not allow districts to deny services because they are costly or the classroom is full (although money and staff time are often the real reasons why districts deny services).

  16. I’m a high school special needs teachers. I have a situation where students are placed or not placed in an appropriate setting due to their FIE. I have only been teaching about 10 years, but one thing I’ve seen is that when I have a student 7-8 hours a day and see how they really work and do well functionally, then to only have someone come “drive by” observation and just get a “snap shot” of what they think the student can do, the student is turned down for certain programs. Is there something I can do as the teacher to really push the issue and advocate for the student’s rights? This particular situation in a large district that has a special program for students from 18-20, that supposedly can only take 22 students. I’m being told too, that the district can deny a student since there may not be a large enough classroom.

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