Independent Educational Evaluation Overview

 

An independent educational evaluation (“IEE”) is an evaluation conducted by an independent qualified examiner (a person who does not work for the school district). A qualified examiner is defined as an individual who meets the same requirements as a school district employee. It is important that if a school is to consider the results of the independent evaluation, the person conducting the IEE must have the same “credentials” as required by the school district or intermediate unit, and the evaluation meets the same criteria the school entity would use to evaluate students. 

 

Parents Right to Request IEE

 

Parents are always entitled to an IEE, [34 CER §300.502 (a)(1)]. However, parents are not always entitled to an IEE at public expense (i.e., paid for by the school district or LEA) [34 CER §300.502 (b)(1)-(5)].  The regulations state that the public agency is permitted to ask the parent what their reason is for rejecting the school’s evaluation. However, the IDEA is also clear that parents are not required to provide an explanation, and reiterates that the school entities inquiry cannot unreasonably delay the decision to either request a hearing or agree to fund the IEE [34 CER §300.502 (b)(4)]. Since there is not a set period, it is very important to promptly respond to any request for an IEE at public expense, as a failure to do so (i.e., failure to request a timely hearing) could be interpreted by a hearing officer as a tacit strategy/attempt not to pay for the parent’s IEE. A guiding best practice would suggest the school entity should act within 10 school days unless documentation shows a good effort has been attempted and a timeframe of 10 school days cannot be adhered to by the district or intermediate unit. 

 

Procedures When Parent Requests IEE

 

A parent needs to make the request in writing to the Special Education Office. A special education administrator must review the request. The school entity must notify the parent indicating approval or denial of the request. If the school entity denies the request for an IEE at public expense, the district must request a due process hearing.

If the district or intermediate unit (for early intervention only) approves the request, the following guidelines are recommended to be followed: 

  • Completion of “Release of Information” form(s): Parent must sign for the release of information to share current evaluation report and IEP, if available, with the Independent Evaluator. The release should also require the evaluator to release all information to the school district or intermediate unit.
  • Requirements of IEE:
    • The District or intermediate unit will require as part of the evaluation an observation of the student in the student’s current educational setting, unless the student is not then in such a setting. The evaluator shall obtain information concerning the performance of the student directly from at least one current teacher of the student, unless the student does not have a current teacher.

     

    The Independent Education Evaluation must comply to the following guidelines:

  1. A clear explanation of the testing and assessment results;

  2. A complete summary of all test scores, including, for all standardized testing administered, all applicable full scale or battery scores, domain or composite scores, and subtest scores reported in standard, scaled, or T-score format;

  3. A complete summary of all information obtained or reviewed from sources other than testing conducted by the evaluator;

  4. Specific recommendations for educational programming;

  5. The evaluator must sign the report;

  6. The complete report must be submitted to District concurrently with submission to the parent.

  7. Administration of all testing and all assessment procedures should rule in or rule out the existence of disabilities defined in IDEA and Chapter 14. These disabilities include Traumatic Brain Injury, Hearing Impairment, Specific Learning Disability, Gifted without Disability, Intellectual Disability, Orthopedic Impairment, Emotional Disturbance, Speech or Language Impairment, Visual Impairment, Multiple Disabilities, Autism, and Developmentally Delayed (early intervention only). Administration of assessments needs to be based on the reasonable suspicion of above-stated disability(ies) expressed by staff, parents, and/or evaluator.

 

Timelines for IEE:

 

Neither IDEA nor Chapter 14 delineates a time frame when an IEE must be completed.

Payment for IEE:

 

After the school entity has approved the request, a letter should be sent to the parent. The contents of the letter should include:

  1. An assurance that the school district/intermediate unit will pay for an independent educational evaluation as long as the evaluation meets all of the requirements of an appropriate evaluation identified under section Procedures when Parents Requests IEE;

  2. A direction that the school district/intermediate unit shall not pay for the evaluation until it receives directly from the evaluator a complete copy of a report of that evaluation and determines that the evaluation meets all of the requirements of this procedure;

  3. A request that the parents consider accessing reimbursement for all or part of the evaluation from public or private sources of insurance or reimbursement. However, the district will make it understood to parents that any reimbursement not covered by such sources, will then be assumed by the district;

  4. Directions that the parent is responsible for arranging for the evaluation and for ensuring that the evaluator contacts the Special Education Office to arrange for payment of the evaluation. If the evaluation has already been conducted and paid for, the correspondence shall advise the parent that the school district/intermediate unit will not reimburse the parent for the reevaluation until it receives

  1. A complete and un-redacted copy of the report of the evaluation and determines that the evaluation meets all of the requirements of this procedure, and

  2. Documentation substantiating that the parents paid for or incurred the obligation to pay for the evaluation without reimbursement from a public or private source of insurance or reimbursement.

The Special Education Office shall send the correspondence to the parent by certified mail or by other independently verifiable means of conveyance and enclose a copy of school district procedure as outlined in section “Procedures When Parent Requests IEE”.

 

Allowable Number of Independent Educational Evaluations

 

IDEA regulations state that a parent is only entitled to one IEE at public expense each time the public agency conducts an evaluation with which the parent disagrees. Obviously, the parent is free to obtain as many IEEs at their own expense as they wish

34 CER §300.502 (b)(5).

 

Guidelines once an IEE request has been received by the district.

The school entity must consider the results of the IEE. Regardless of who funds the IEE, the district/intermediate unit or the parent, if the IEE is shared with the district, the district/intermediate unit must consider those results with respect to providing FAPE to the student [34 CER § 300.502 (c)(1)]. It is important to remember, a school district’s obligation is only to “consider” the results of any IEE. There is no requirement about how much weight the district must give the IEE or that the district must incorporate any of the IEE recommendations into the student’s educational program. This is true even if the IEE was at public expense.

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