Independent educational evaluations (IEEs): What you need to know

By Amanda Morin

At a glance

  • If you disagree with the results of your child’s school evaluation, you can request an independent educational evaluation, or IEE.

  • IDEA requires the school to pay for an IEE in certain situations.

  • An IEE at public expense is not the same as a typical private evaluation.

Do you disagree with the results of your child’s school evaluation? Or are you worried it wasn’t thorough enough? You have a right to an (IEE) under the (IDEA). And it’s not just an IEE you have a right to — it’s one at public expense.

Here’s what you need to know about IEEs.

What an independent educational evaluation (IEE) is

As a parent, you always have the right to a private evaluation. If you share the evaluation results with the school, the results become part of your child’s educational record. The school must consider those results. It doesn’t have to accept them, though.

An IEE at public expense is different from a typical private evaluation. It’s still a private evaluation performed by a qualified professional. However, it’s an evaluation that the school pays for. And that professional cannot work for the school district. The evaluator is picked from an approved list of professionals who are not connected to the district.

Your legal right to an IEE

IDEA gives you the right to request that the school pay for an IEE if you disagree with the results of the school’s evaluation. Here are some other reasons you might ask for an IEE:

  • The school evaluation didn’t find evidence of a disability, but you think it’s wrong.
  • You don’t think the disability your child has been diagnosed with is correct, or you think the results of the testing aren’t accurate.
  • The school’s evaluation didn’t examine all the issues you think it should have.

The school may just agree to pay for the evaluation. But in some cases, the school may push back. The school can’t simply refuse your request, however. If it feels an IEE isn’t needed, it must ask for a due process hearing to say why its evaluation is correct.

During the hearing, the school must show that the evaluation it did was right for your child. If it fails to do so, the hearing officer will decide that the school has to pay for the IEE.

Before a decision is made, the school can ask you why you don’t agree with its evaluation. By law, however, IDEA says you don’t have to provide an explanation. It also says the school can’t cause “unreasonable delays” in scheduling and paying for the IEE, or filing for due process.

If you do want to explain why you disagree with the school’s initial evaluation, it’s important to be prepared. You may want to speak with an attorney before attending the hearing.

An IEE has to meet the same standards that are required of a school evaluation. For instance, the credentials of the evaluator and the location of the evaluation have to be comparable to the school’s. The school has to tell you what those standards are. Other than that, the school can’t put any other conditions or deadlines in place.

Other things to know about IEEs

When you disagree with an evaluation, you only have the right to one IEE request for each evaluation the school conducts. And the results of the IEE have to be considered by the school to make sure it’s providing your child with a (FAPE).

Also, the results can be used as evidence in future due process hearings. That’s worth knowing in case the results aren’t that different from the school’s evaluation and you have to decide on your next steps.

Be aware of your rights so you know what those steps could be. Learn more about evaluation rights and about the pros and cons of private evaluations. And download a sample letter to request an independent educational evaluation.

Key takeaways

  • An IEE has to meet the same standards that are required of a school evaluation.

  • The school may push back on your request for an IEE at public expense.

  • The school has to consider the results of an IEE to make sure your child receives a free appropriate public education.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Amanda Morin is the director of thought leadership at Understood and author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.” She worked as a classroom teacher and early intervention specialist for more than a decade.