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How Can We Get an Independent Evaluation by an
Evaluator of Our Choice?

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When the school evaluated my child, the evaluator overlooked or minimized several areas and did not make specific recommendations about services. We requested an independent evaluation. The school said we have to use an evaluator from their "approved list." Is this true? How independent is an evaluator who has been 'approved' by the school?

No, but you don't want to start WWW III over this issue. You want to get a comprehensive evaluation of your child by an evaluator of your choice.

In How to Compromise with Your School District Without Compromising Your Child, parent attorney Gary Mayerson (who represented the family in Zachary Deal v. Hamilton County TN and other cases) describes a strategy that parents can use to get an independent evaluation by an evaluator of their choice.

Mr. Mayerson suggests that parents write a letter to the school that says:

Dear _____:

I / we are not satisfied with the [recent - add date] evaluation performed by the
school's evaluator [or the evaluator chosen by the district] on our child [name]. Among other things, we do not agree with X, Y, Z. [describe objections] With all due respect, we do not believe this evaluation accurately reflects our child's unique needs.

In light of this, we are requesting that the district agree to pay for an independent evaluation of our [son/daughter] by [name of provider] who is a private [child psychologist / speech language pathologist / neuropsychologist / other ] located at [address] The anticipated cost of this evaluation is $____.

Please advise if the district will pay for this independent evaluation which we consider to be essential. If the district refuses to pay or fails to advise of approval within 30 days, we reserve the right to secure and pay for the requested independent evaluation. If we have to go that route, we will have no choice but to request that the district reimburse us. Please advise.

Thank you,
Your Name

Mr. Mayerson suggests another strategy for parents to use when the school says they must select an evaluator from the school's "approved list".

He advises parents to politely but firmly decline -- and when they decline, they should be prepared to identify the independent evaluator they wish to use.

How To Compromise with Your School District Without Compromising Your ChildHe says, "Once a parent declines to choose a so-called "independent" evaluator whose name appears on a list maintained by the school district, it is incumbent upon the school district to allow the parent to make an independent choice, or be prepared to take the parent to due process to establish that there is no basis for any independent evaluation."

In How to Compromise with Your School District Without Compromising Your Child, Mr. Mayerson provides many useful strategies that parents can use to get services. Mr. Mayerson's book is available from and other online bookstores. You will also find a link to this book in the Wrightslaw Advocate's Bookstore.

Related Articles

Independent Evaluations: Must Parents Select an Evaluator from the School's 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.

Independent Education Evaluations: What? How? Why? Who Pays? - Parents and school personnel are often confused about what constitutes an independent educational evaluation (IEE) and how the evaluation is to be used. In this article, parent attorney Wayne Steedman describes independent educational evaluations and their value, what the law requires of school districts, and who is financially responsible.

Last revised: 10/22/12

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