What is an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)?

As a parent or guardian, Neuropsychological Evaluations you always have the right to a private evaluation. Families usually pay for this on their own. But sometimes the school may agree or be forced to pay. When this happens, it’s called an independent educational evaluation at public expense.

An IEE at public expense is different from a typical private evaluation. It’s still a private evaluation performed by a qualified professional. But the school pays for it. And the evaluator is picked from an approved list of professionals who do not work for the district.

An IEE has to meet the same standards that are required of a school evaluation. For instance, the credentials of the evaluator and the location of the evaluation have to be comparable to the school’s. The school has to tell you what those standards are. Other than that, the school can’t put any other conditions or deadlines in place.

Your legal right to request an IEE

IDEA gives you the right to request that the school pay for an IEE if you disagree with the results of the school’s evaluation. Here are some other reasons you might ask for an IEE

The school evaluation didn’t find evidence of a disability, but you think it’s wrong.

You don’t think the disability your child has been diagnosed with is correct, or you think the results of the testing aren’t accurate.

The school’s evaluation didn’t examine all the issues you think it should have.

It’s important to know that when you disagree with an evaluation, you only have the right to one IEE request for each evaluation the school conducts.

How schools may respond to IEE requests

The school may agree to pay for the IEE. But in some cases, the school may push back. The school can’t simply refuse your request, however. If it feels an IEE isn’t needed, it must ask for a due process hearing to say why its evaluation is correct.

During the hearing, the school must show that the evaluation it did was right for your child. If it fails to do so, the hearing officer will decide that the school has to pay for the IEE.

Before a decision is made, the school can ask you why you don’t agree with its evaluation. By law, however, IDEA says you don’t have to provide an explanation. It also says the school can’t cause “unreasonable delays” in scheduling and paying for the IEE, or in filing for due process.

If you do want to explain why you disagree with the school’s initial evaluation, it’s important to be prepared. You may want to speak with an attorney before attending the hearing.

How to Request an IEE

Here are the steps you need to take to request an IEE at public expense for your child:

Step 1: Send a Written Request for an IEE at Public Expense

If you disagree with the school district’s assessment of your child, you should write a letter/email to your child’s case manager or district’s Special Education Director. In the letter/email, you should state that you disagree with the school district’s assessment. You should also state that you are requesting an IEE at public expense.

While the law does not say that an IEE request has to be in writing, Neuropsychological Evaluations writing a letter/email to the school district is important. A school district is not required to fund an IEE if you did not provide the school district with notice that you disagreed with its assessment and requested an IEE at public expense. Writing a letter/email can show that you gave the school district notice, if there is a dispute later. Keep a copy of the letter/email for your records.

After it receives your letter, the school district may ask you to explain why you disagree with its assessment. You do not have to give any reasons for your disagreement to the school district. Also, the school district cannot use your refusal as an excuse for delaying its response to your request.

Step 2: Wait for a Response

After you send your letter/email to the school district, the school district must respond to your request “without unnecessary delay”. The law does not state how much time a school district is allowed to take to respond.  The law does allow a reasonable but short period of time to allow the parent/guardian and the school district to talk and negotiate about the IEE request. Whether a delay is reasonable depends on the specific situation.

If the school district does not respond at all, it has failed to follow the law. If you do not receive any response from the school district, please go directly to Step 4 in this publication.

If the school district agrees to fund the IEE, then you can work with the school district to select your Independent Evaluator.

If the school district files for due process, be prepared to go to a hearing. You will need to explain to the judge why you think the school district’s evaluation is inappropriate. You will also need to explain why you need an IEE.

Step 3: Don’t Take “No” for an Answer

If the school district has not responded to your request or has denied your request without filing for due process, you should write another letter to the school district. In this letter, you should tell the school district that it has violated your rights under the following federal special education regulation: 34 C.F.R. Section 300.502(b).

If you do not receive a response from the school district, you should also tell the school district that you are taking their inaction to mean that the school district agrees to fund the IEE. Also, you can tell the school district either.

You will notify the school district that you will pay for an IEE and then send the bill for the IEE to the school district for reimbursement, or

You will ask the school district to directly pay the provider you have selected to conduct your IEE.

If you decide to move forward with an IEE without the school district’s response, make sure that the Independent Evaluator meets all of the school district’s IEE guidelines, including qualification criteria and cost. Neuropsychological Evaluations You could also choose not to write anything to the school district and go directly to Step 4 in this publication.

Step 4: If All Else Fails, File a Compliance 

If the school district has still not approved the IEE or filed for due process against you, you can file a compliance complaint with the California Department of Education (“CDE”). In this complaint, you should say that the school district has violated your procedural rights under 34 C.F.R. Section 300.502(b) and request CDE to order the school district to provide you with an IEE immediately.

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