Welcome to the ABCs of IEPs…and today is the letter I. I is for IEE, or Independent Education Evaluation. IEEs are quite misunderstood in the IEP process and I find that parents are not really sure how to handle this process. This will be an overview of Independent Education Evaluations and their role in the IEP process. Like some of the other posts I’ve done in this ABC series, I will do this in an FAQ format.
What is an IEE/Independent Education Evaluation?
An IEE is just what it says–it’s an education evaluation that is done on your child, by an independent evaluator. There are independent evaluators is dozens of areas-vision, hearing, behavior, psych, reading, etc. As a general rule, IEEs are much more in-depth and more specific. I have seen them cost anywhere from $250-$7500.
The school has to give us one, right?
No, and this is a big misconception among parents. The school does not have to grant you an IEE. Some of the reasons for an IEE are:
- district does not employ qualified evaluators for a specific evaluation
- you disagree with district’s evaluation
- district refuses to do evaluation
- district’s eval was incomplete or used outdated methods or data
- data collected is inappropriate (for example, they used a test protocol that is not appropriate for autism or IDD, or non-verbal or blind, or reading disabled, etc.)
When would I ask for an IEE?
Whenever you feel there is an area of need that is not being addressed or incorrect addressed. Read the bullet points above. Just like anything else, you ask for this in writing. The district will then respond to you, hopefully in writing. If they are declining, ask for a PWN/NOREP form stating why they are declining. Be prepared for anything, and have your ducks in a row before you request an IEE.
They may say no, lots of districts do. Know that if you do end up in mediation/due process over this, it is a good idea to let the school use their evaluators and evaluate the child first.
I already got an IEE that I paid for, why won’t the school implement the recommendations?
Short answer: Because they don’t have to!
But seriously, they only “have to consider” the information presented to them by an independent evaluator. This is why I hate when parents just go out and spend thousands of their own money getting an eval, without researching the process first. If a school agrees to fund the evaluation, they are more likely to implement the recommendations, in my opinion. Now, should you find yourself with a child who is regressing or not making progress, even after being given an independent evaluator’s report, and you find yourself in mediation or DP over that…then having that evaluator’s report will definitely help you in your case.
Do I have to use an evaluator from the list they gave me?
No! No matter what are told, you do not. Ask around, ask in parent support groups. Call the evaluator’s offices, ask about what you are looking for. Ask how often their reports are used in DP cases. How often are they hired by parents, and are they contracted by any schools? In our litigious society, this area has grown like every other area–and paid expert witnesses, which is what many independent evaluators are….there are ones who work for parents, and ones who work for schools. They may find what they are biased to find.
The IEE process, from the parent’s perspective:
- Identify the area of need you are seeing.
- Look at child’s previous RR or Present Levels section, is this area of need already identified?
- If answer is no, ask for an evaluation in this area of need. Be specific. The thing about IEEs is that they usually are highly specified–this is usually when a child goes from “specific learning disability” to very specific deficits and strategies. The district may say, “Yes, but she is already identified as having a learning disability” so then it’s up to you to provide data. “Yes, but… I am still seeing this, this and this.”
- If the school’s evaluation is satisfactory, then proceed with IEP process. If, according to one of the above bullet points you need to request an IEE, you do so. IN WRITING.
- Proceed as appropriate.
This is a general overview. If you have specific questions, ask. Or, if you have suggestions, you’re welcome to leave a comment.