Are you concerned about a learning disability that your child’s public school has not evaluated adequately, or has your child’s school refused to conduct an evaluation you believe is necessary? You have a right to request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. You not only have a right to request an IEE Evaluation, but can select the evaluator at no cost to you.
An Independent Educational Evaluation, or IEE Evaluation, is a formal report based on observation and testing and is conducted by a qualified evaluator who is not an employee of your child’s school. Think of it this way: Requesting an IEE Evaluation is similar to requesting a second opinion for a medical diagnosis. IEE Evaluations are used for various purposes, including evaluating learning disabilities, as required by (IDEA) 34 CFR 300.502.
Your child might have received an IEP (Individual Education Plan), a school evaluation or reevaluation for special education services or an evaluation for certain type of disabilities (like dyslexia, or ADHD) or support or service (e.g., speech therapy or technology supports).
504 Plans are not eligible for IEEs.
A parent or guardian may consider requesting an IEE Evaluation in the following circumstances:
A parent or guardian has the right to ask for an IEE Evaluation at public expense – involving no cost to the family – when there is disagreement as to the results of the evaluation conducted by the school. The school district will either pay for the full cost of the IEE Evaluation or ensure the IEE Evaluation is otherwise provided at no cost to the parent.
Only one IEE Evaluation may be requested for an evaluation where there is disagreement; however, if more than one evaluation is contested, all evaluations conducted could be eligible for an IEE Evaluation.
A parent can also pay for an IEE Evaluation at their own expense. The advantage of this is that the evaluation does not need school prior approval, and thus permission to perform it cannot be withheld. It also can remain confidential and submitted only after review and at the parent’s discretion.
Your child’s school may agree to the IEE Evaluation without issue. However, if the school district does not feel the IEE Evaluation is necessary, they may request a hearing to refuse the IEE request and defend the findings of the existing evaluation the school conducted. The hearing officer will then determine whether or not the IEE Evaluation is necessary and may go forward.
Please note that while the school district may ask the parent or guardian why they are requesting an IEE Evaluation, it cannot condition its response on whether to fund or file for due process on whether there has been given an adequate explanation for those reasons.
If your child’s school decides to file for due process rather than pay for the IEE Evaluation, it is advisable to consult a special education attorney.
A school district is not required to fund an IEE Evaluation if you did not provide the school district with notice that you disagreed with its assessment and that you requested an IEE Evaluation at public expense. Writing a letter/email can show that you gave the school district notice, if there is a dispute later.
If the parent or guardian wants to pursue an IEE Evaluation, they should notify the school district in writing. In response, federal and state laws require the school district to either agree to fund the IEE or file for due process. You should send the letter requesting an IEE by fax, email or regular mail (certified). You should keep a copy of the letter with your child’s records.
It is important to give the school district a reasonable amount of time to respond to the request before moving forward with the IEE Evaluation. The law requires response to a parent or guardian request for an IEE Evaluation without “unnecessary delay,” but there is no specific timeframe within which the district is required to respond. Some courts have determined a response within 30 days is considered reasonable.
If the school district fails to respond to your request or denies 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). At this point, it may be advisable to consult with a special education attorney.
An IEE Evaluation must meet the same or higher standards that are required of a school evaluation. The credentials of the evaluator and the location of the evaluation have to be comparable to the school’s evaluation. The school has a responsibility to provide information as to what those standards are, but the school cannot place any other conditions or deadlines.
If the school district agrees to fund the IEE Evaluation, it must also provide you with a list of potential independent evaluators that meet the school’s criteria, but you are NOT required to choose anyone on that list. Dr. Tansman is qualified to perform these evaluations and is not affiliated with, nor an employee of, any school district.
Independent educational evaluators are credentialed and certified experts who examine a student to assess their physical or psychological condition and level of education-related functioning. Evaluators are required to provide objective, independent evaluations.
Evaluators should never be directly involved in a student’s care or be responsible for ordering treatment and providing ongoing care to the student being evaluated. A mental health professional who has previously cared for the student may not serve as the independent educational evaluator in their case.
When an IEE Evaluation is scheduled, the applicant will receive information regarding the date and place for the evaluation to occur. Prior to the evaluation, the IEE provider generally receives and reviews records pertaining to the student. In an IEE Evaluation, there is no therapist-patient relationship and no requirement of confidentiality. The independent educational evaluator's role is solely to assess and report.
After the examination, the IEE provider will submit a report that the school will take into consideration. The school district is not required to accept the results of an IEE. However, accuracy in diagnosis and proper educational remedies are essential to your child’s overcoming or living with a learning disability and are ultimately a parent’s responsibility to address.