Can a School Deny an IEP Evaluation? | Next Steps for Parents

Refused IEP Evaluations

Let me be blunt–If your child’s IEP evaluations suck, the rest of your IEP will be garbage. Without good evals, the IEP present levels, the eligibility, the goals, the baselines, supports and services–all of it will be worthless. That’s why it’s so essential that you pay close attention to this part of the process. The Present Levels section of the IEP is the most important part of the IEP–so you want it to be accurate.

In this post, I am going to explain what to do when a school refuses to evaluate your child for an IEP, and various scenarios. However, I have several posts on IEP evals that may also be of interest to you.

a student struggling because her iep evaluations were denied

Also, for the purposes of this post, I am going to assume that you have requested your evaluations correctly. That is, you put your written request into the team, and that you provided examples as to why you believe these evaluations are warranted. If you have not done that, please go back to my “how to request” post linked above and do that.

If you only made a casual request, and didn’t provide any reasoning or documentation, do that now.

But, if you did that, and the school still said no, read on.

Can a school district refuse to evaluate my child?

The short answer is yes.

Important Note: Read this and re-read it, and heed it–

It is becoming more common for a school to refuse to evaluate a child, and instead offer the parent RTI or a 504. Since the parent is being offered something, it doesn’t necessarily “feel” like refusing to evaluate, and most times they will not provide this information on a PWN. But they should!

Refusal is refusal, no matter what is offered instead of what you requested. Go with your gut and pursue the IEP, rather than waste valuable time.

girl throwing her books

What to Do When School Refuses to Evaluate

Assuming that you have submitted your request for evaluations in writing, the school said no.

Next step–how did they tell you no? Was it a phone call or an email?

Because if they are refusing to evaluate your child, they are required to present you this information on a PWN or Prior Written Notice form. They must list what you asked for, their response and how they got to that conclusion.

If this did not happen, you need to do two things.

First, email whoever told you “no!” with a simple “Thank you for letting me know. Please send me a completed PWN form with this information.”

Next, Google “your state + IEP procedural safeguards” if you were not given a copy by the school, or if you cannot locate them. Read them. In particular, the section on dispute options. You’re going to have to decide what you are doing next.

Options include–

  • Do nothing now. Pause, rest, reflect (hey families are often dealing with divorce, job loss, illness, aging parents….we can’t fight every fight every day) and make a plan for the future.
  • File for mediation to get the child evaluated.
  • File for due process to get the child evaluated.
  • Pay for an Independent Education Evaluation (IEE) and proceed with one of the options above based upon the results of that evaluation.
  • Take whatever it is they are offering (RTI/MTSS or 504 plan) and see how it goes. (I rarely recommend this, however, like the first bullet point I make, we don’t always have the fight in us)
  • Obtain private services for your child during after-school time

I know that not all options are available to all parents. IEEs are expensive, as are private services. But, they are options so I listed them.

Can I ask for an IEE if they refuse to evaluate?

So, you can ask for anything. However, procedurally, if you are refused evaluations, you are to receive that information on a PWN and use your procedural safeguards.

If you instead ask for an IEE, your request will likely be bounced back with “this is not procedure” and you could waste time.

Instead, I would either use your procedural safeguards. Or, get the IEE yourself and do a 10-day unilateral to reach back and request reimbursement for the IEE. But, that isn’t a guarantee, so don’t do the IEE on a credit card or something else, if you cannot afford one. I have more information on the 10-day unilateral in that linked post above.

Lastly, parents, go with your gut. I say this all the time–a parent’s gut instincts about their child needing help are rarely wrong. Good luck and join our Facebook group if you have more questions.

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