Educational Evaluations (IEEs)
If you, as a parent of a child with a disability, disagree with the results of a special education evaluation of your child that was conducted by the school district, you have the right to obtain what is known as an Independent Educational Evaluation, or an IEE. Parents and school personnel are sometimes confused about what constitutes an independent educational evaluation (IEE) and how the evaluation is to be used by the school district.
Under the law, a parent has a right to request an independent assessment at public expense if the parent disagrees with the assessment performed by his or her child’s school district. If you request an IEE, put your request in writing, indicate that you disagree with a particular assessment, and ask for the school district to pay for the IEE.
After your child’s school district receives your request for an IEE, under the law, the school district is to respond in two ways: either fund the IEE or file for due process. Due process of the lawunder the U.S. Constitution prohibits all levels of government from arbitrarily or unfairly depriving individuals of their basic constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property. The right to special education is a right protected under the due process clause of the Constitution. Special education due process is the course of formal legal proceedings carried out regularly and in accordance with established rules and principles.
In filing a due process complaint with the court, the school district will argue that its assessment was appropriate. If the case goes to hearing, the school district will make this argument before a special education administrative law judge.
In the alternative, if you don’t want to risk going to hearing over the assessment, instead of requesting that the school district fund an IEE, you can always obtain an IEE at your own expense. If the school district accepts the recommendations of your assessor, you can ask to be reimbursed for it.
Parents also sometimes obtain IEEs as a result of negotiating for them during mediation, or a judge at a due process hearing may order that one be provided.
If the school district agrees to the IEE, the district may try to restrict the cost or limit the evaluators who the district will accept to conduct the evaluation. The law is silent on the on the procedure for selecting an independent evaluator. Make sure that the evaluator is not an employee of the school district and has the necessary qualifications to perform the assessment.
In most cases, you should have the independent assessor observe your child in his or her classroom. The assessor should also communicate with your child’s teachers and other service providers to make sure that any recommendations the independent assessor makes conforms with your child’s unique educational needs. If the school district conducted an observation as part of its assessment, your independent assessor has the same right to observe the child in his current or the proposed educational placement.
Whether the school district funds the IEE or you do, the school district is obligated to consider the results of an independent educational evaluation in a decision regarding a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for your child. Once you obtain the IEE, provide the school district with a copy of it and ask for any recommended services in writing.