When a parent or guardian requests an independent educational evaluation, schools need to know what they are required to do, and what they are not required to do.
A parent is not entitled to an IEE until the district has done its own evaluation. After the district has done an evaluation, the parent is entitled to one IEE at public expense. There is no specific timeline for the IEE request to be answered by the district, but it must be done “without unreasonable delay.”
Parents always have the right to obtain an independent educational evaluation of their child at their own expense. 34 CFR 300.502 (a)(1); 34 CFR 300.502 (b)(3). Guidance from OSEP states that a parent is not entitled to an IEE until the district has done its own evaluation.
The IDEA provides Parents with the right to an independent educational evaluation (IEE) of their child at public expense if they disagree with an evaluation obtained by the district, unless:
- The district demonstrates in a due process hearing that its own evaluation of the child was appropriate; or
- The district demonstrates in a due process hearing that the evaluation obtained by the parents did not meet district criteria. 34 CFR 300.502 (b)(1) through 34 CFR 300.502 (b)(2).
A parent is entitled to only one IEE at public expense each time the public agency conducts an evaluation with which the parent disagrees. 34 CFR 300.502 (b)(5).
While the IDEA regulations do not set a specific time to respond to a parent’s request for an IEE, they do state that the district must act “without unreasonable delay.” What is “unreasonable” is not defined, thus a review of law on the issue is informative.
- Defining “unreasonable delay” for an IEE request:
- Two month delay before district filed for due process to contest parent’s IEE request not unreasonable, where district sent prior written notice of disagreement within 10 days of IEE request. Santa Monica-Malibu Unified Sch. Dist. 114 LRP 127 (SEA CA 12/23/13).
- 90 day delay in denying parent IEE request unreasonable because district failed to communicate with parent during that time or express reason for delay. Los Angeles Unified Sch. Dist., 111 LRP 48178 (SEA CA 07/07/11).
- An April 19, 2013, Letter of Findings from the Arizona Department of Education found a two-week delay during which parent and school were actively communicating was not an unreasonable delay. However, a subsequent three-week delay, during which the district and the parent were not in communication, was an unreasonable delay.
- In some instances, a parent may forfeit the right to an IEE at public expense by waiting too long to request one from the district. See, e.g., Student with a Disability, 113 LRP 52623 (SEA NY 11/20/13) (request for several IEEs denied because parent failed to object to the district’s reevaluation until impartial hearing); Atlanta Pub. Schs., 51 IDELR 29 (Atlanta Parent Magazine, SEA GA 2008) (request for IEE in response to evaluation conducted more than three years earlier was untimely).
If a parent requests an IEE, the district must provide information about where the parents may obtain an IEE, as well as the district criteria for IEEs. 34 CFR 300.502 (a)(2). The district should provide this information in a timely manner. See, Dover City Schs., 57 IDELR 208 (SEA OH 2011). The district may ask for the parent’s reason for objecting to the school evaluation, but it may not demand or require that parent provide an explanation. 34 CFR 300.502 (b)(4).
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please feel free to contact Erin H. Walz at 480.461.5379, log on to www.udallshumway.com or contact an attorney in your area.