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Posts Tagged ‘independent educational evaluation’

Cost of IEE includes presentation to IEP team

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Meridian Joint School District, No. 2 v. D.A., 62 IDELR 144 (D. Idaho 2014): A federal district court awarded a parent of a student on the autism spectrum reimbursement for an independent educational evaluation (IEE), with such reimbursement to include the private evaluator’s presentation of her findings to the IEP team.  Noting that the parents’ “right to an IEE, let alone their right to participate in decisions on the educational placement” of their son “would mean little if they were left to challenge the District’s experts with a partial assessment or ‘without an expert with the firepower to match the opposition’”, the Court awarded the parents reimbursement for the expenses incurred by the private evaluator in presenting her evaluation to the IEP team.

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School district’s $1,800 cap on IEEs is reasonable

Monday, July 1st, 2013

M.V. v. Shenendehowa Central School District, 60 IDELR 213 (N.D.N.Y. 2013):  A federal district court deemed reasonable a school district’s adopted reimbursement cap of $1,800 for an independent educational evaluation (IEE), since there were several qualified local evaluators willing to provide IEEs within that cap.  The district’s policy allowed that such cap may be exceeded in exceptional or unique circumstances.  The parent in this case was unable to demonstrate that the independent evaluation she obtained resulted from such exceptional or unique circumstances and, accordingly, full reimbursement for her IEE was denied.

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Parents need not explain objections to an evaluation to qualify for an IEE at public expense.

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

In re Student with a Disability, 58 IDELR 57 (NY SRO 2011):  The New York State Review Officer (SRO) upheld an impartial hearing officer’s (IHO) determination that parents of a student with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and a disorder of written expression, were entitled to an independent educational evaluation (IEE) at public expense.

The parents disagreed with the district’s psychoeducational evaluation of the student, and obtained a private evaluation at their expense.  The parents then requested the IHO to order reimbursement for their evaluation.  The district argued the parents were not entitled to an IEE at public expense partly because they failed to explain why they wanted an IEE.  The SRO noted that comments accompanying the federal IDEA regulations specifically provide that a school cam ask the parent why he or she objects to the public evaluation, but the district “cannot require the parent to provide an explanation.”  The district’s only option is to request an impartial hearing to demonstrate the appropriateness of its evaluation.

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Parents’ conditions to consent for re-evaluation amounted to a denial of consent, relieving school district of obligation to evaluate.

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

G.J. v. Muscogee County School District, 58 IDELR 61 (11th Cir. 2012):  A U.S. federal Court of Appeals upheld a district court’s determination that, where a student’s parents placed several specific conditions on their consent for re-evaluation, the conditions amounted to a constructive denial of consent.  Since consent was constructively denied, the school district was not obligated to re-evaluate the student.

The school sought to re-evaluate the student and provided the parents with a consent form during the kindergarten year for the student (identified as autistic and having a brain injury).  The parents returned the consent form, but with an “addendum” that contained numerous conditions upon which their consent relied.  For example, the parents conditioned their consent on being able to meet with the evaluator prior to and after the evaluation but prior to its submission to the IEP team.  The administrative law judge (ALJ) and district court both determined that, due to the extensive nature of the conditions, the “consent” essentially amounted to a denial of consent, thereby relieving the school district of its obligation to evaluate the student.  The Court of Appeals affirmed such reasoning.

Accordingly, since the parents never consented to a re-evaluation, they were not entitled to an independent educational evaluation (IEE) at public expense.  In order to be entitled to an IEE, the school district must first conduct an evaluation to which the parent may object.  Since the parents did not consent to an evaluation, no evaluation was conducted.  Therefore, there was no evaluation to which the parent could object and thus become entitled to an IEE.

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Alabama District Judge rules that the IDEA does authorize independent educational evaluations at public expense (overruling magistrate judge).

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Phillip and Angie C. v. Jefferson County Board of Education, 57 IDELR 97 (N.D. Ala. 2011):  A U.S. District Judge overruled a magistrate judge’s recommendation that the IDEA does not authorize IEEs at public expense.  Given the circumstances surrounding the regulation (e.g., that it has been in place since 1977 and Alabama has a similar state regulation), the District Judge determined that the IDEA statute’s omission of “at public expense” did not render the regulation void since the agency (here the Department of Education) is delegated authority to fill any gap Congress leaves in a statute.  The regulation providing for IEEs at public expense fills that gap.

The District Judge upheld the magistrate’s other recommendation, however, that the hearing officer did not have authority to order production of copies of the student’s records under the circumstances in this case.  Specifically, the hearing officer determined that, once the parents filed a due process complaint, they were entitled to copies of the student’s records and not simply an opportunity to inspect and review them.  However, since the hearing officer reached this determination after the hearing had concluded, the determination was untimely since the reasons supporting the hearing officer’s conclusion (that parents should have copies of student records in order to ably prepare for a hearing) were rendered moot by the fact that the hearing had concluded.

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School district may not cure deficient evaluation to avoid paying for an IEE.

Monday, August 29th, 2011

M.Z. v. Bethlehem Area School District, 57 IDELR 5 (E.D. Pa. 2011):  A U.S. District Court determined that a state hearing officer erred when she ordered a school district to simply update an inappropriate evaluation rather than ordering a new and complete evaluation.

The parents of a student with a central auditory processing disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified (on the autism spectrum) requested an independent educational evaluation (IEE) as a result of the district’s failure to conduct an appropriate evaluation of the student.  The district, instead of paying for the IEE, filed a due process complaint claiming that its evaluation was appropriate.  The hearing officer found the district’s evaluation was inappropriate, but nevertheless decided not to require a full IEE because the parent “did not really take issue with the accuracy of the test results” of the district.  Instead, the hearing officer ordered the district to cure its inappropriate evaluation by including a classroom observation and input from the student’s teachers and parents.

The Court, agreeing that the evaluation was inappropriate, overturned the hearing officer’s order, noting that the federal regulations do not require specific arguments or disagreements with an evaluation for a parent to become entitled to a publicly funded IEE.  The regulations simply require that the district’s evaluation be inappropriate.  Since the district’s evaluation for this student was inappropriate, the parents were entitled to an IEE at public expense.

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Alabama Magistrate Judge rules that IDEA does not authorize independent educational evaluations at public expense.

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Phillip and Angie C. v. Jefferson County Board of Education, 56 IDELR 225 (N.D. Ala. 2011):  A federal magistrate judge held that the statutory language of the IDEA does not authorize independent educational evaluations (IEEs) at public expense, despite the longstanding regulation allowing such.  As a result, the judge recommended that parents of an autistic student should not be reimbursed by the school district for an IEE they obtained at their own expense.

Part B regulations for the IDEA allow for IEEs at public expense.  However, the judge reviewed the language of the IDEA statute and noted that, although the statute authorizes IEEs, it does not include any authorization for those IEEs to be obtained at public expense.  The only authority for IEEs at public expense is found in the regulations.  Since the statute includes no such authorization, the magistrate judge determined that the regulation allowing IEEs is void.

Additionally, the magistrate judge decided that parents are not entitled to copies of their child’s educational records.  The statute and regulations only allow parents the right to inspect and review educational records.  Such a right does not inherently include the ability to copy such records, absent some compelling circumstance (such as a parent’s remoteness from the school, making it difficult for the parent to have a reasonable opportunity to inspect and review the records).  Therefore, the magistrate judge recommended that the parents’ request for copies of the student’s records should be denied, since the parents had ample opportunity to inspect and review the student’s file.

It should be noted that the magistrate judge’s recommendations are subject to approval by the District Court Judge.

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School district’s classification of student after consideration of IEE suggests that student was harmed by delay in provision of IEE.

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Taylor v. District of Columbia, 56 IDELR 128 (D.D.C. 2011):  A U.S. District Court found that a school district’s delay in providing a student with an independent educational evaluation (IEE) may have denied the student a FAPE.

The school district conducted a psychological evaluation of the student, and its evaluator determined that the student did not qualify for special education services. The IEP team, however, determined that it required additional information before reaching a conclusion.  Subsequent to the IEP team meeting (in early June 2008), the parent requested an IEE.  The school district did not respond, and the parent filed a due process complaint.

In response to the hearing request, and more than four months after the parent requested the IEE, the school district authorized the IEE.  When the IEE was complete (in December of 2008), the corresponding IEP team that determined the student had an emotional disturbance and ADHD, and required a full time therapeutic setting.  Since the hearing officer was not privy to the determination of the IEP team, the Court remanded the case back to the hearing officer for a determination as to whether or not the delay in the IEE denied a FAPE.  The parent requested a finding that a failure to timely respond to an IEE request be held as a “per se” denial of FAPE, but the Court declined to so hold.

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School districts cannot condition reimbursement for IEEs on conditions not contemplated in the IDEA regulations.

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Letter to Anonymous, 55 IDELR 106 (OSEP 2010):  The U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), in response to an inquiry from a concerned individual, stated that it is not consistent with IDEA regulations for a school district to require that a parent comply with certain conditions not contemplated in the regulations in order to seek reimbursement for independent educational evaluations (IEEs).

In this case, the school district required that it must have already completed its evaluation, and required that the parent provide a written disagreement with the district’s evaluation prior to obtaining an IEE or provide notice of the request for an IEE at an IEP team meeting.  OSEP decided that requiring that the district’s evaluation be complete before a parent is entitled to an IEE is consistent with the regulations, since a parent does not have a right to an IEE until he or she disagrees with the district’s evaluation and, correspondingly, a parent cannot disagree with an evaluation until it is completed.

Although, it is also reasonable for a school district to require that it be notified prior to a parent actually obtaining an IEE, a school district cannot require that a parent provide a written statement of its disagreement or provide prior notice at an IEP team meeting.  If a parent requests an IEE, the school district has two choices: to provide the IEE without unnecessary delay, or initiate a due process hearing to demonstrate that its evaluation is appropriate.

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