An independent educational evaluation is often referred to as an IEE. One of your parental rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is that you have the right to request an IEE at public expense if you believe that an assessment completed by the school district during the eligibility or re-eligibility process is inaccurate or invalid. The district has a choice at this point to file for a due process hearing or provide the parents with a list of approved independent evaluators. The parents do not have to pick from this list of providers but if they pick another provider the provider must have certain credentials.
Some parents misinterpret this law and go out and get assessments and bring them to IEP meetings and expect them to be paid for and adhered to. This is not how the process works. First, the school district personnel or contractors the school district hires must complete an assessment on your child. Then the assessment, which should include recommendations, must then be presented and explained to you. Finally, if you have a significant reason to believe that the school district’s assessment is invalid or inaccurate you may state that and request an IEE at public expense.
The school district may ask you why you are requesting an IEE but they may not require you to explain your rationale and they must quickly make a decision on how to act upon your request. The district will either give you a list of approved Independent Evaluators or if the school district feels strongly that their assessment is valid and appropriate and they have the documentation to prove that, they may choose to file a for a due process hearing. If it is determined at the due process hearing that the assessment is appropriate, the parents are still able to obtain an IEE, but not at the public’s expense.
Some school districts attempt to put pressure on parents to pick from their specified list of evaluators. In February 2004 the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) addressed this issue in a letter that states, “other than establishing these criteria (for the location and credentials of the evaluator), a public agency may not impose conditions or timelines related to a parent obtaining an IEE at public expense.” The criteria required are the same ones used by the school district. For example, if the school district requires that a Master’s level social worker complete the assessment in question, then the parents have to find a Master’s level social worker to do the IEE. If you have any questions about whether a certain practitioner meets the criteria check with the Special Education Office prior to getting the IEE.