SRO Takes Narrow Position On Independent Educational Evaluations (IEE's)
In Appeal No. 11-001, State Review Officer Bates adopts a narrow interpretation regarding Independent Educational Evaluations (IEE's). Under the law, parents have the right to obtain a private evaluation at the school district's expense if the parent disagrees with an evaluation completed by the school district. In this case, the parent had indicated at her IEP meeting that she disagreed with certain aspects of that IEP. She orally requested an IEE and the district agreed but asked that the request be made in writing. The district later indicated that it had a cap of $1,800 for this type of (neuropsychological) evaluation. The evaluation was going to cost more than that and was never completed since the district would not cover the entire cost.
It seems unfortunate that the parent completely missed out on the opportunity to do a private evaluation. It's unclear why the parent did not accept the $1,800 for the evaluation, personally pay the difference, and then seek reimbursement for the amount paid out of pocket. When this case was heard after the parent's attorney requested an impartial hearing, the impartial hearing officer (IHO) determined that the school district had no obligation to cover the cost of the evaluation (even though it had agreed to it!). The main issue here was whether a parent needs to disagree with an actual evaluation completed by the district, or it is sufficient for the parent to disagree with the IEP. In a sense, the IEP does reflect the district's evaluation of what the child's needs and issues are so that argument is not far-fetched...but you would need a friendly IHO or SRO to see it that way. Neither of those individuals saw it that way in this case.
The SRO upheld the IHO's decision and took the position that "evaluation" means a test or assessment and not an IEP. Therefore, because the parents never actually disagreed with an evaluation that was completed by the district, they did not meet the necessary criteria.