News and Notes from The Johnson Center

Assessment Corner: “I disagree with the results of my child’s school evaluation. What are my options?

JCCHD | Mon, March 04, 2013 | [Autism Treatment][Assessment Corner][Q and A ]

Thinking about assessments ...

Educational evaluations carry significant weight in educational decisions concerning your child. They will help determine your child’s eligibility for special education services, educational placement, and Individualized Education Program (IEP). Schools are required to complete a Full and Individual Evaluation (FIE) for children suspected of having disabilities or differences that impact their ability to succeed in school. Re-evaluations are also required to be completed at least once every three years so that educational planning can be updated based on your child’s changing needs.

If the school assesses your child and you do not feel that they did an adequate job, or you disagree with the results, the process does not have to end there. An important educational right that all parents of children with special needs should be aware of is the right to an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE). An IEE is a private evaluation completed by a qualified professional who is not employed by the school. In most cases, if the school agrees to an IEE, it is paid at the school’s expense. Additionally, if the school does not have adequate resources to complete an evaluation of certain skills, they must obtain a private evaluation at their own expense. The IEE can include assessment of any skills related to the child’s academic needs. Therefore, it is not limited to assessing only academic and cognitive functioning; it can include other relevant areas such as speech, social, sensory, or gross motor functioning. Oftentimes, an IEE might be completed by a few different private professionals such as a Psychologist, a Speech and Language Pathologist, and an Occupational Therapist. The right to an IEE gives parents a stronger voice in how their child is evaluated and how the information is used for educational decisions.

An IEE cannot be requested until after the school completes their evaluation. Once parents are able to review the school’s evaluation and results, they then have the option of requesting an IEE. Parents should provide a written request for an IEE to the special education department, or the IEP team. After the request is submitted, the school district must, without unnecessary delay, agree to the IEE at the school’s expense, or file a due process complaint to request a hearing to show that their evaluation is appropriate. In other words, they can’t ignore or refuse the request—some action must be taken. When the IEE is agreed upon, the school district often provides a list of private Psychologists or other professionals who can complete it. Parents can choose from this list, or they can choose a different provider as long as he or she is qualified to assess necessary areas. The school will then contract with the private evaluator for payment. When an IEE is completed and presented to the school, the school district must review the evaluation and consider it when making educational decisions for the child. However, the school does not have to accept the findings and recommendations included in the IEE.

In summary, Independent Educational Evaluations are a valuable right and tool that parents can use when advocating for their child’s educational needs. For further information on IEEs and other educational laws and rights, see Wrights Law: Check back here soon for more information about your child’s rights and how to choose a qualified clinician for assessments.