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 request 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 or guardian, you always have the right to a private evaluation. Families usually pay for this on their own. But sometimes the school may agree or be forced to pay. When this happens, it’s called an independent educational evaluation at public expense.

An IEE at public expense is different from a typical private evaluation. It’s still a private evaluation performed by a qualified professional. But the school pays for it. And the evaluator is picked from an approved list of professionals who do not work for the district.

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.

Your legal right to request 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.

It’s important to know that when you disagree with an evaluation, you only have the right to one IEE request for each evaluation the school conducts.

How schools may respond to IEE requests

The school may agree to pay for the IEE. 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 in 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.

How schools use IEE results

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.

Learn more

If you share outside evaluation results with the school, the results become part of your child’s educational record. The school must consider those results. But it doesn’t have to agree with the findings.

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 author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days.