IEE Independent Education Evaluations
Last week I had a phone chat with a Special Education Attorney. He’s going to be on the Don’t IEP Alone Podcast. In deciding what to talk about, I asked him what trends and issues he was seeing. The first thing he said–the misunderstanding about asking for IEEs and parents being shocked when the school district files for Due Process.
Did you know this? That, by the IDEA laws and statutes (quoted below), that if a School District is denying your IEE request, then they are required to file for Due Process?
They are! So it is super important to have your ducks in a row.
You do have the right to an IEE…but only under specific conditions.
So, this post will be about IEE Independent Education Evaluations. If you just need to know about regular ole IEP evaluations, you can look in that link.
What is an IEE?
IEE stands for Independent Education Evaluation. Independent meaning someone not working for the school. An outside evaluator. Look in your Procedural Safeguards. It is defined in there.
So it is my “right” to get an IEE, correct?
No! Here’s the thing. Take a look at the clip above. If a district believes in their evals and is denying the IEE, per IDEA they must file for due process.
This is a common mistake from parents. They’ve only read the first part. “You have the right to an IEE…..” But look at the rest of that sentence: “subject to the following conditions.”
So you have the right to ask for one. However, the district may still say no.
When do I ask for an IEE?
Well, whenever you/your child/situation is subject to those following conditions. I’ve listed them below.
Some of the reasons for an IEE Independent Education Evaluation are:
- the district does not employ qualified evaluators for a specific evaluation
- you disagree with the district’s evaluation
- the district refuses to do an 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- district’s eval was incomplete or used outdated methods or data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.)
You only get one IEE per issue or per occurrence so to speak. So say you suspect a reading disability of some kind. The district evaluates your child and says he’s fine. You get an IEE (at district expense), and that evaluator agrees with the district. No reading disability. You generally cannot get another IEE for the same issue.
How to ask for an IEE.
Like everything else, always do your requests in writing. I also have some letter templates at the end of this post.
What happens after you ask for an IEE Independent Education Evaluation.
They’re either going to say yes, no or request that you come in for a meeting to discuss it. If they say no, be prepared to make decisions about Due Process (more info below).
Do I have to use an evaluator from the list they gave me?
No! No matter what you 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.
My school filed for Due Process when I asked for an IEE!
Yes, they did. You should expect this. Be prepared for this before you submit your request for an IEE. IDEA actually requires this. Here is the exact wording:
Parent right to evaluation at public expense.
(1) 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, subject to the conditions in paragraphs (b)(2) through (4) of this section.
(2) If a parent requests an independent educational evaluation at public expense, the public agency must, without unnecessary delay, either—
(i) File a due process complaint to request a hearing to show that its evaluation is appropriate; or
(ii) Ensure that an independent educational evaluation is provided at public expense, unless the agency demonstrates in a hearing pursuant to §§300.507 through 300.513 that the evaluation obtained by the parent did not meet agency criteria.
This is why you need to have your ducks in a row prior to ever requesting the IEE. Yes, it sucks that it’s another example of parents being on the defensive, but we all need to be aware. And remember, not all people at all districts are jerks.
IEE Request Meeting
Sometimes when a parent requests an IEE, the school says that they want to meet. One of my life’s philosophies is to “never assume intent.” Still, I would prepare and go to the meeting. They may want more information. Or, they may want to tell you that it is their intent to decline your request and file for DP. Either way, you’ll have to decide if you want to “show your cards” as they say.
If it does go to DP, the burden of proof is on them to provide that their evaluations are satisfactory and appropriate. If you have evidence to the contrary and are comfortable going to Due Process over this, then I’m not sure I would spill my entire strategy at this meeting.
This is one of the few circumstances where I feel a parent has a better chance of going to due process without an attorney. It’s a single issue, and if you have a lot of concrete data and know how to do this, I think your chances are much better than a parent who is trying to prove denial of FAPE.
Great! I’m getting one for my child. And then those items will be put on my child’s IEP, right?
After all is said and done, the district has to consider the information in the IEE report. Note, that says consider, not “follow to the letter all the recommendations.” IEEs can be very expensive. I’ve seen some decent agencies do them for $250, depending on the length and type of eval, and I’ve seen some as high as $7000 or more.
So why would a district refuse to provide an IEE at a parent’s request? Money, of course. It comes down to money and providing services. In many cases, IEE reports are filled with extensive strategies for the child, and well, some districts don’t like that. With money and budgets and the economy the way it is, IEEs have become a very active battleground.
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!
They only “have to consider” the information presented to them by an independent evaluator. This is why I hate when parents go out and spend thousands of their own money getting an evaluation 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 your case.
Sample IEE Request Letters
I found these on Pinterest. At some point, I will take the time to go through my client files, redact personal information and compile the IEE Request Letters I have written for them.