PCSSD - 4.49P2: Independent Educational Evaluation

4.49P2: Independent Educational Evaluation

General Information

An Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) is an activity conducted pursuant to federal and state laws and regulations which establish certain procedures to ensure that children with disabilities and their parents are provided procedural safeguards with respect to the provision of a free appropriate public education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). See 20 U.S.C. §1415(b) (1) and (d) (2) (A); 34 C.F.R. § 300.502; A.C.A. 6-41-201, et seq.

District Policy

The Pulaski County Special School District (hereafter, the District) adheres to requirements set forth in the IDEA and its implementing regulations that a parent/legal guardian of a child suspected of having or having a disability has the right to obtain an independent educational evaluation of the child subject to provisions of the IDEA and this policy.  

For the purposes of this policy, the following definitions apply:

  1. Independent Educational Evaluation means an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the district responsible for the education of the child in question (in this case, the PCSSD).
  2. Public expense means that the District either pays for the full cost of the evaluation or evaluation component(s) or ensures that the evaluation or evaluation component(s) are otherwise provided at no cost to the parent/legal guardian.

Evaluation at Public Expense

  1. A parent/legal guardian has the right to an IEE at public expense if he/she disagrees with an evaluation or components of an evaluation completed or obtained by the District, subject to conditions set forth in the IDEA. The IEE must arise from a parent’s/legal guardian’s disagreement with the District’s most recent evaluation or re-evaluation of the child. If the parent/legal guardian refuses to consent to a proposed evaluation initiated by the District, an IEE at public expense is not available because there is no public evaluation with which the parent/legal guardian can disagree. 
  2. If the District has not conducted or obtained its own evaluation, the parent/legal guardian does not have a right to an IEE within the meaning of this policy until such time as the District performs its own evaluation and the parent/legal guardian disagrees with the District’s evaluation. 
  3. A parent/legal guardian is not required to notify the District prior to obtaining an IEE. If a parent/legal guardian requests an IEE, the District may ask for the reason why he/she objects to the District’s evaluation. However, the District may not require the parent/legal guardian to provide an explanation and may not unreasonably delay either providing the parent/legal guardian the IEE or filing a special education due process complaint to request a due process hearing to defend the District’s evaluation. There is no requirement that the parent/legal guardian specify areas of disagreement with the District’s evaluation as a prior condition to obtaining the IEE. 
  4. If a parent/legal guardian requests an IEE at the District’s expense, the district will, without unnecessary delay:
    1. Provide the parent/legal guardian with a copy of this policy and the District’s IEE procedures; 
    2. Provide information to the parent/legal guardian about where an IEE may be obtained and the District’s criteria applicable to an IEE; and
    3. Either:
      1. Initiate a special education due process hearing to show that its evaluation is appropriate, or
      2. Ensure an IEE is provided at the District’s expense.
  5. If the District initiates a due process hearing and the final decision supports the appropriateness of the District’s evaluation, the parent/legal guardian still has the right to an IEE but not at public expense.
  6. A parent/legal guardian is entitled to only one (1) IEE at the District’s expense each time the district conducts or obtains an evaluation with which the parent/legal guardian disagrees.
  7. If the parent’s/legal guardian’s request falls within the scope of the IDEA’s provisions for an IEE and the District determines it will not provide an IEE at public expense, the District will initiate a special education due process hearing without unnecessary delay to show that its evaluation is appropriate. If the final decision of the hearing is that the District’s evaluation is appropriate, the parent/legal guardian still has a right to an IEE, but not at the District’s expense.
  8. An IEE, whether at public or private expense, will be considered by the District, if it meets the District’s criteria, in any decision made with respect to the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to the child. The IEE may be presented as evidence at a special education due process hearing regarding the child.
  9. If an IEE is obtained at the District’s expense, the criteria under which the evaluation is obtained, including the geographic location of the evaluation and the qualifications of the examiner, must be the same as the criteria which the District uses when it initiates an evaluation. Cost limitations may be set forth based on reasonable and customary assessment rates in the geographic region and those incurred by the District for its evaluations. The Director of Special Education shall maintain a list of qualified independent evaluators in each of the various disciplines commonly relied upon to provide education-related evaluations and assessments and shall make that list available to any parent/legal guardian who requests it.
  10. Except for the criteria described in this policy, the District shall impose no other conditions related to obtaining an independent educational evaluation at District expense.

District Criteria for an Independent Educational Evaluation

The following criteria must be met in order for reimbursement to be provided for an IEE within the meaning of the IDEA. Arrangements can also be made to make payment directly to the evaluator(s).

  1. Locations Limitation for Evaluators. The office of the independent evaluator must be within the same geographic area that the District would use for its independent evaluation, should it request one. The evaluation itself must include observations in a natural setting (e.g., local classroom, or home/preschool for a preschool child). The location requirements may be waived or modified in special circumstances when unique diagnostic expertise is warranted, providing the parent/legal guardian can demonstrate the necessity of using an evaluator outside the specified geographic area.
  2. Qualifications of the Evaluator. A list of qualified independent evaluators who meet the minimum qualifications will be available from the District Special Education office. The evaluation must be conducted by an evaluator that meets State and District requirements for licensure and/or certification for conducting the type of IEE being requested.
  3. Cost Limitations. Reasonable and customary rates for the type of evaluation sought may be established by the District based upon services currently provided by evaluators in the geographic region. Residents of Pulaski County who are patrons of the District should not incur lodging expenses in order to obtain an IEE within the geographic area. Reasonable travel and meal costs may be reimbursable if deemed appropriate and necessary.

    Costs above customary amounts will be approved only if the parent can demonstrate that the costs reflect a reasonable and customary rate for such evaluative services or if the parents can demonstrate that there are other factors that make the extraordinary costs necessary. 
  4. Approved Assessment Instruments. All evaluation instruments must be administered by the qualified evaluator, be age appropriate for the child, and be administered and scored in conformance with the publisher’s instructions. The evaluation instruments must be standardized and, to the extent practicable, norm-referenced and meet standards of the American Psychological Association (APA). The evaluation instruments are to be chosen on the basis of their relevancy to the educational questions to be addressed by the evaluation and sufficient in scope to diagnose the presence or absence of a clinical impairment. This means that the instruments should be those which are commonly known to, and used by, public school professionals.
  5. The independent evaluator must be allowed to conduct in-class observations if the District’s evaluator observed the child as part of his/her assessment, or as a required component of the evaluation. The evaluator must be permitted to directly communicate and share information with District staff, as necessary to the completion of the IEE.
  6. Conflict of Interest. The independent evaluator must be free of any conflict of interest, and the subsequent IEE must not be of benefit to any particular public, non-public, or private school, agency or institution.
  7. Release of Assessment Results. As part of the contracted IEE, the independent evaluator must agree to release the assessment information and results directly to the District prior to the receipt of payment for services. Independent evaluators must agree to make all test protocols available to District staff for review when requested. Payment will not be made until it is determined that the IEE meets the same criteria as that required of the District in conducting an evaluation.
  8. Written Report. The independent evaluator must provide a complete written report containing all test results, findings/conclusions and recommendations for the District’s consideration. Test interpretations and conclusions stated in the written report must be directly and clearly supported by the test data. Recommendations made as a result of the evaluation must be educationally relevant and realistic relative to implementation within an educational setting. 

IEE PROCEDURES

Parent Request for an IEE

  1. The parent/guardian of the child must present his/her request for an IEE in writing to the District. The written request must be forwarded immediately to the Director of Special Education. 
  2. Upon receipt of the written request, the Director of Special Education may ask that the parent/legal guardian state his/her reason(s) for disagreement with the evaluation conducted by the District. However, the District cannot require the parent/legal guardian to do so, and the refusal of the parent/legal guardian shall not delay the process required by this policy.
  3. When the parent/legal guardian requests an IEE, the Director of Special Education will, without unreasonable delay, provide the parent/legal guardian a copy of this policy and procedures, as well as information about where an IEE may be obtained and the District’s criteria applicable to an IEE.
  4. When the District receives a request from the parent/legal guardian for an IEE, the District will, without unreasonable delay and not later than ten (10) school days of receipt of the request for an IEE in writing from a parent/legal guardian, inform the parent/legal guardian that the District:
    1. Will pay for the requested evaluation subject to the requirements of this policy, or
    2. Will initiate due process to defend the District’s evaluation.
  5. If the District decides that it will initiate due process to defend its evaluation, then it will follow the process required by State Special Education rules relative to parent/legal guardian and Arkansas Department of Education notification of that decision and request for a due process hearing. 
  6. If the District decides that it will not initiate due process, then the District must inform the parent/legal guardian in writing that an IEE will be provided at public expense. The written correspondence will contain the following information:
    1. Assurance that the District will pay for an IEE as long as the evaluation meets all of the requirements of an appropriate evaluation and is in compliance with this policy.
    2. A statement that the independent evaluator must be permitted to directly communicate and share information with District staff. 
    3. Prior to conducting the evaluation, the parent/legal guardian must provide the evaluator with a signed release form that will authorize the evaluator to release to the District all testing data, reports, copies of test protocols (including parent, teacher and student surveys), billing records and any other information generated, used or considered by the evaluator during the IEE process. A District parental consent for third-party release of information request form specifying the requested information will be provided to the parent/legal guardian with the correspondence for this purpose.
    4. A statement that the district will not pay for the evaluation until it receives directly from the independent evaluator a complete copy of a written report of the evaluation and determines that the evaluation is in compliance with this policy. 
    5. Direction that the parent/legal guardian is responsible for arranging for the evaluation and ensuring that the independent evaluator contacts the Director of Special Education to provide the District with required information and forms to arrange for direct payment of the IEE.

Parent Request for Payment for Previously Completed IEE

  1. The parent/legal guardian of a child may obtain an IEE without notification to the District and then request payment for that evaluation.
  2. If the parent/legal guardian is requesting payment for an IEE already completed, the parent/ legal guardian must notify the District in writing of that request. The written request must be forwarded immediately to the Director of Special Education. 
  3. Within a reasonable time of the receipt of the request, the District will, without unreasonable delay and not later than ten (10) school days of receipt of the request, notify the parent/ legal guardian as to whether the District will initiate due process to establish the appropriateness of its evaluation or pay for the IEE obtained at parent/legal guardian expense.
  4. If the District decides to pay for the IEE, the Director of Special Education shall issue correspondence advising the parent/legal guardian that the District will not reimburse the parent/legal guardian for the evaluation until:
    1. It receives a complete and unredacted copy of the report of evaluation and determines that the evaluation is in compliance with this policy.                 
    2. It requires documentation from the parent/legal guardian substantiating that he/she paid for or incurred the obligation to pay for the evaluation without receiving reimbursement from a public or private source of insurance or other reimbursement. 

      A copy of the District’s IEE policy and procedures must be enclosed with the correspondence. The correspondence will be sent by certified mail or by other independently verifiable means of conveyance.
  5. If the District decides to pay for the IEE, the District’s criteria, including the geographic location of the evaluator(s), the minimum qualifications of the evaluator(s), the cost of the evaluation, and the use of approved assessment instruments must be met. If the cost of the IEE exceeds the District’s cost limitations, the District will inform the parent that the District will pay the portion of the cost that is within the District’s limitations, if the District determines that an appropriate IEE could have been obtained with the cost limitations.

Requests for Evaluations by Hearing Officers

If a hearing officer in a special education due process hearing orders an independent educational evaluation as part of a hearing on a due process complaint, the cost of the evaluation must be at public expense.