Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs) – They are Free*
Do you (as a parent/guardian) disagree with the school’s special education evaluation (often times referred to as a MET – Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team)? If so, you can get an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE). It is basically a second opinion. And IEEs are conducted by doctoral trained licensed psychologists. And better yet, they are FREE*! So what is with the asterisk (*)? I will explain.
IEEs are free to parents. Federal law (I will spare you from citing the federal code here) states, “[a] parent has the right to an independent educational evaluation at public expense if the parent disagrees with an evaluation obtained by the public agency.”
Ok so still why the asterisk? Well, because IEEs are not free to the public agency (i.e., the school district). And can public agency set a maximum allowance that they will pay? Kind of. The US Department of Education has always contested that school should not pay for “unreasonably expensive IEEs” so they may establish a maximum that they will pay. However, if the IEE from the particular provider exceeds the maximum that the school will pay, the parent can provide justification why their evaluator may charge more (i.e., the parent would have to demonstrate “unique circumstances”). Regardless, if the public agency will not pay the entire cost of the IEE they have two options 1) file a due process complaint stating that their evaluation is appropriate or 2) demonstrate in a due process hearing that the evaluation obtained by the parent does not meet agency criteria. Bottom line is public agencies can only refuse to fund the cost of an IEE in a due process proceeding. They cannot unilaterally tell a parent they will not pay for the IEE outside of a formal proceeding.
How do you get an IEE? First, you (the parent) must disagree with an evaluation. And the evaluation should be less than two years old (I will explain that in a bit). You can write a letter to the school requesting one (see an example here). What must schools do when they receive one? The must provide the IEE at no cost to the parent (unless they demonstrate via due process that the evaluation does not meet agency criteria or show via due process that their evaluation is appropriate) without unnecessary delay.
Important note is parents can request an IEE if the child was not assessed in all areas of suspected disability. So at the Review of Existing Data (RED) meeting (also called a MET1), the school must inform you of what areas they will test in. These are the specific areas: General intelligence, academics, communication, social/emotional, hearing, vision, motor/sensory, health/physical, vocational/occupational/transition, adaptive behavior, functional behavior assessment, adaptive P.E., PT/Gross motor, or other (e.g., autism). So if you believe the school failed to assess your child in any one of these areas, you are entitled to a free IEE.
What if the school conducts a RED (MET1) but decides to not collect any additional data? Am I (the parent) still entitled to a free IEE if the school did not do any further testing? YES. A RED without further testing is still considered an evaluation since eligibility is still determined based solely on a RED. However, if the parent requests an initial evaluation and the school refuses to conduct the evaluation (via a Prior Written Notice – PWN) due to no suspicion of a disability, then the parent is not entitled to an IEE. However, parents have the right to challenge the school’s refusal to evaluation via mediation or due process.
Is there a “statute of limitations” or a deadline for which you must file the IEE? Yes. A public agency can deny an IEE without requesting a due process if the MET/school evaluation is more than two (2) years old.
How often can a parent request an IEE? Parents can only obtain one (1) IEE for free when they disagree with an evaluation that was performed by the school district.
Still have questions about IEEs or special education? Do not hesitate to contact me (602.699.4543) or email@example.com. I have over 10 years’ experience as a school psychologist and I am glad to help.