IEE Attorneys in Los Angeles
Parents Have the Right to Request an Independent Educational Evaluation
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) passed by Congress in 1975, all children with special needs are entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). All public school districts are obligated to evaluate children within their district boundaries and determine whether they have any disability and decide what educational and other services need to be provided to those children. Such evaluations are usually conducted by school district personnel for free. Following the evaluation, the school district will develop an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to suit the child’s needs.
However, there may be times when a parent or guardian does not agree with the school district’s assessment of their child’s disabilities or needs. In those cases, you have the right to an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) of your child. An IEE is always conducted by an independent, non-school district examiner.
If you’re one of the many parents who are not satisfied with a school district’s evaluation, contact the experienced legal team at Pasadena’s Woodsmall Law Group. Our attorneys are dedicated advocates for children with special needs and their families. Call our offices at (626) 440-0028 for a free initial consultation. Our team is fluent in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Polish, and Spanish.
Why Request an Individual Education Evaluation?
Receiving another IEE is similar to getting a second opinion from a medical doctor. What makes an IEE so valuable is that the party making the evaluation has no conflicting interests, meaning the evaluator will not be constrained by questions about budget, accessibility, or resources. In contrast, a school district employee may allow issues like budget constraints or manpower shortages to influence your child’s assessment. An independent IEE assessor will not have such conflicts and can focus on providing a thorough assessment of your child so that their IEP can be more effective, if an IEP is even necessary. You should request an IEE if:
- You simply just don’t agree with the school district’s assessment and IEP.
- The school district’s assessment conflicts with your child’s doctor, psychiatrist, or therapist’s assessment.
- You don’t feel the school district’s assessment of your child’s needs and education strategy is comprehensive enough.
- Your child is not adequately progressing.
- You are incurring unreasonable financial hardship.
- Your child’s needs have changed, and the school district is not addressing those needs.
What Is the Role of an IEE in a Child’s Education?
IEEs are designed to give you, school administrators, and your child’s educators a more well-rounded expert opinion about your child’s condition. They can provide key insights into your child’s development so that their IEP team can effectively respond to their disability and offer the correct services and supports that they need. So long as the IEE adheres to the school district’s criteria, they must take it into consideration when making decisions about your child’s education. These reports can also be utilized in a due process hearing.
Who Pays for an IEE?
You can request an IEE “at public expense,” which means the school district will be required to pay for it. The only way for a school district to get out of paying for an IEE is to initiate a due process hearing. In most cases, the cost of paying for an IEE is much less the cost of a due process hearing. Therefore, school districts usually will opt to pay for the IEE.
However, you should be aware that you are only allowed to request one IEE at the school district’s expense per evaluation they have conducted. If the school district conducts a single evaluation in a school year, then you can request an IEE if you disagree with the results. However, if you still disagree with the results, you must pay for any additional evaluations out-of-pocket.
There may be an occasion where the school district hires an independent evaluator to assess your child. In such a case, that assessment is still considered the district’s assessment, and thus, the parent still has the right to disagree with that assessment and request an IEE.
What Are the Rules and Regulations of an IEE?
IEEs must adhere to specific requirements in the state of California, many of which are based around providing a parent with an impartial evaluation of their child’s development. These regulations include:
- Parents aren’t required to give a specific reason why they’re requesting an IEE, even in a due process hearing.
- An IEE cannot be performed by an employee of the school district.
- A school district may have a list of approved IEE evaluators, but a parent is not limited to that list. Parents can choose anyone they want to perform the IEE, as long as that evaluator meets the school district’s criteria.
- A school district cannot impose restrictions on an evaluator; that would prevent a parent from getting a truly INDEPENDENT evaluation.
- Federal law requires school districts to provide the parent with a written list of their criteria for an acceptable evaluator.
- If the school district denies a parent’s request for an IEE, the district must initiate a due process hearing “without delay.”
How Can I Request an IEE?
If you disagree with a school’s evaluation of your child, you may request an IEE by submitting a letter to your IEP team or school administrator. The letter must state that you are requesting an IEE at the school district’s expense. You do not have to provide the reason behind the request even if the school district requests one. You should also keep a copy of this letter for future reference.
Once the school district has received the request, it can either choose to take steps to fulfill the request and provide an IEE or file a due process hearing. There is no set timeline for when the school has to reply to your request, but you may wish to wait at least 15 days before following up, as 15 days is the average amount of time it takes for standard assessments to be requested. If the school district does not make a decision either way, you can file a Compliance Complaint for violating your right to due process.
If the school agrees with your request, they may provide a list of independent evaluators for you to choose from, or you may select a separate evaluator. The evaluator must fit the school district’s criteria with regards to how evaluations are conducted, as well as pricing. In either situation, you will want to work closely with the school district to ensure the evaluation is conducted in a timely manner.
If the school requests a due process hearing, then they will need to address why they have denied your request and why they think their original evaluation was accurate. They may ask why you disagreed with their original evaluation. While you legally do not have to provide a reason, it can make it harder for you to receive an IEE if the judge overseeing the hearing sides with the school. Your best option is to contact an attorney to represent you and your child’s best interest in a hearing.
Why You Need an IEE Lawyer
The information above is just scratching the surface when it comes to getting an IEE for your child. Having a special education attorney can make the process of requesting and obtaining an IEE smoother and faster, allowing your child to get the help he or she needs to live a fulfilling life.
We Can Help You Enforce Your IDEA Rights with the School District
At Woodsmall Law Group, we are fully versed in state and federal special education statutes and have helped many Los Angeles County families successfully petition for IEEs. To get your child the education he or she deserves, guaranteed by the law, call our San Gabriel Valley office at (626) 440-0028 to schedule a free case evaluation.