When establishing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) certain requirements were put in place to help protect the rights of children with a disability and their parents. These protections called the Procedural Safeguards are outlined in 20 U. S. C. § 1415. In my opinion, one of the most important of these safeguards is the Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) which is found in Section 300.502 of IDEA. It States:
(1) The parents of a child with a disability have the right under this part to obtain an independent educational evaluation of the child, subject to paragraphs (b) through (e) of this section.
(2) Each public agency must provide to parents, upon request for an independent educational evaluation, information about where an independent educational evaluation may be obtained, and the agency criteria applicable for independent educational evaluations as set forth in paragraph (e) of this section.
(3) For the purposes of this subpart—
(i) Independent educational evaluation means an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the public agency responsible for the education of the child in question; and
(ii) Public expense means that the public agency either pays for the full cost of the evaluation or ensures that the evaluation is otherwise provided at no cost to the parent, consistent with §300.103.
To learn more about the requirements for an Independent Educational Evaluations please visit this link.
The IEE gives parents’ an outlet to determine if the School is offering the proper amount and types of services when the school specialist is recommending something less than the parent thinks is necessary. Most School District’s I work with are under the impression that Parent’s cannot ask for an IEE unless they have already conducted an assessment in that area of suspected disability. While it is true that the School District must conduct its evaluation or reevaluation first it does not have to be in that exact area of disability. Recently, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) for the United States issued a memorandum to the State of New Jersey’s Department of Education which stated:
Based on review of the New Jersey regulation, OSEP’s assessment is that N.J.A.C 6A:14-2.5(c)(1) limits the parents’ rights to an IEE by giving the public agency an opportunity to conduct an assessment in an area not covered by the initial evaluation or reevaluation before the parents are granted the IEE. In order to receive its Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2012 Part B grant award, the State will need to provide specific written assurance to OSEP that the State will: (1) Revise New Jersey regulation N.J.A.C 6A:14-2.5(c)(1) to eliminate the provision that, “If a parent seeks an independent evaluation in an area not assessed as part of the initial evaluation or a reevaluation, the school district shall first have the opportunity to conduct the requested evaluation.” (2) Ensure compliance in the interim throughout the FY 2012 grant period with the specific requirements of 34 CFR§300.502; and (3) Send a memorandum to all Local Education Agencies to inform them of the changes to the regulation and the need to comply with the requirements in 34 CFR§300.502.
While this memo was specific to language contained in the State of New Jersey’s Education code most School District’s that I have been involved with outside of New Jersey hold a similar philosophy whether or not it’s specifically written in the law. What this memo does is clarify OSEP’s position on a parent’s right to an IEE and when it is allowable. What is important to note is that while every State is allowed to write their own special education law it is not allowed to provide less protections then would be available through IDEA. I highly recommend printing out a copy of the memorandum and bringing it with you to IEP meeting’s if you think you might be requesting an IEE.