Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)
February 06, 2016
An independent educational evaluation (IEE) is an evaluation of a child that is conducted by a qualified person not employed by the child’s school district.
Parents are equal partners in their child’s educational decision-making process. Providing parental input and concerns regarding enhancing the education of a child is vital. Independent evaluations often support parents’ opinions and can give parents a measurement or a system of checks and balances to ensure that the district’s focus for the child’s education is on track.
Recently, the New Jersey Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs issued guidance to clarify the New Jersey Administrative Code 6A:14 2.5 (c) 1 regarding IEE requests, because important parental rights guaranteed by federal law were not specified in the code. School districts are required to follow the guidance until the regulations are formally amended to comply with federal regulations. The guidance memo provides answers to frequently asked questions about IEEs and can be downloaded at https://www.nj.gov/education/specialed/memos/100113iee.pdf.
Why choose an independent evaluation?
Parents may choose to request independent evaluations for a variety of reasons, most commonly because they believe that the school district’s evaluation of their child was not “appropriate.” For example, they may believe that their child’s evaluation is not accurate or complete, that essential testing was not done, that the wrong tests were used, or that the results are not sufficient for the parent and the IEP team to decide if the child has a disability and what special services he or she needs.
Who pays for the independent evaluation?
When parents request an IEE at public expense, the school district will have to obtain the IEE and pay for it unless the school district requests a due process hearing and the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) rules that an IEE is not necessary.
In other words, the school district cannot simply refuse the parents’ request. It must either consent to the IEE at public expense, or request a due process hearing in an effort to convince an ALJ that the evaluation it completed was sufficient.
According to the New Jersey Administrative Code 6A:14 2.5 (c) 2 i, “Upon receipt of the parental request, the school district shall provide the parent with information about where an independent evaluation may be obtained and …the school district shall take steps to ensure that the independent evaluation is provided without undue delay.”
Parents may also choose to hire someone on their own to conduct an Independent Educational Evaluation. In this case parents are responsible for the costs of an IEE. In certain circumstances the school district may be financially responsible for the IEE. If the school district does not have the personnel or resources to conduct an evaluation which an IEP team has determined is needed, the school district will have to obtain an independent evaluation at its own expense.
How will an independent evaluation affect my IEP?
According to New Jersey Administrative Code 6A:14-3.7(c) 3, “When developing the IEP, the IEP team shall consider the results of the initial evaluation or the most recent evaluation of the student and, as appropriate, the student’s performance on any general or State or district wide assessment.”
When a parent presents an IEE to a school district, the IEP team is required to consider the evaluation. This does not mean that the school district must accept the findings or recommendations of the IEE. Requirements placed on school districts regarding “considering” the IEE are fairly minimal. If a school district refuses to consider an independent evaluation, it not only denies meaningful input from the parents, but it also prevents possible important information from being included into the development of the IEP.