CESA 7  Special Education letterhead


August 23, 1999

TO: School District Administrators
FR: Nissan B. Bar-Lev, Director of Special Education
RE: Independent Educational Evaluations - School District Responsibility


DPI Bulletin No. 99.02 addresses the responsibilities of the local school district in providing for an independent educational evaluation. These responsibilities are triggered when parents are dissatisfied with the local district's evaluation and subsequently request an independent educational evaluation. It would appear to be in the district's best interests to adopt a local policy to establish acceptable criteria for (a) the independent educational evaluator and (b) the maximum allowable costs. The attached draft policy is included for your consideration. I am also adding selected Q & A from DPI Bulletin No. 99.02 to illustrate the need for this policy:

What is an independent educational evaluation?

An independent educational evaluation or "IEE" is an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not an employee of the child’s local educational agency. A parent-initiated IEE may be either at the expense of the child’s parents or at public expense (at no cost to the parents). A due process hearing officer may order an IEE. An IEE ordered by a due process hearing officer must be at public expense.

When parents initiate an IEE, who selects the examiner?

When the parents of a child with a disability initiate an IEE, the parents have the right to select the examiner. Upon receiving a request for an IEE, a local educational agency must inform parents about where to obtain an IEE. Listing the names and addresses of examiners who meet local educational agency criteria is one way to inform parents. Also the agency must inform the parents of the agency’s IEE criteria. The agency should present the information in a manner that is easily understandable. The department strongly recommends that parents contact their child’s local educational agency to learn about the agency’s IEE criteria before obtaining an IEE.

May a local educational agency require parents to notify the agency prior to obtaining an IEE?

A local educational agency may have a policy requiring parents to notify the agency of their intent to obtain a publicly funded IEE. However, the agency may not deny parents a publicly funded IEE because they failed to provide the agency with such notice. If the parents request an IEE, the agency may ask for the parents’ reason for objecting to the agency’s evaluation. However, the local educational agency may not unreasonably delay a publicly funded IEE because the parents have not informed the agency of their reason for objecting to the agency’s evaluation.

May a local educational agency establish policies to ensure that an IEE is obtained at a reasonable cost?

The agency may establish maximum allowable costs for IEEs. However, the agency must set the maximums so that they permit parents to choose from among the qualified examiners in the area and only eliminate unreasonable fees. An agency must permit parents to show that unique circumstances justify an IEE that exceeds the district’s maximum allowable cost. If unique circumstances justify an IEE that exceeds the maximum allowable cost, the agency must ensure that the IEE is publicly funded. If the total cost for an IEE exceeds the local educational agency’s cost criteria and there is no justification for the excess cost, the cost of the IEE must be publicly funded up to the agency’s maximum allowable cost.

If a local educational agency has not established maximum allowable costs for IEEs may it refuse to pay the full cost of an IEE that it considers too expensive?

If the agency has not established a maximum allowable cost, the parents may use any qualified examiner. The agency must pay the fee, or, if the agency believes the fee is unreasonable, challenge the parents’ request in a due process hearing. In the hearing the agency must show that the IEE is unreasonably expensive.

I have added a new statement to the "Special Education Rights for Parents and Children" (these "Rights" must be provided to parents on an annual basis). The new statement reads: "Please contact the director of special education to obtain a copy of the school's rules regarding qualifications and the location of the examiner as well as maximum allowance costs."

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