California Special Education Law

Advocacy Resources, Hearing & Appeal Decisions, Statistics and More for Parents

Who Picks the IEE Assessor?

September 19, 2010


If parents disagree with a local educational agency’s (LEA*) evaluation of their child, they have the option of requesting an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at public expense. However, parents are sometimes faced with the district acting outside the law by offering its own assessment plan to be completed in 60 days, pre-determining the allowable cost of the evaluation, or attempting to restrict the parent’s choice of an evaluator to its preferred list.

In a recent OAH decision (Student v. Roseville Joint Union High School District, August 30, 2010), an administrative law judge agreed that the district “committed a procedural violation by failing to comply with the law governing funding of IEEs.”

The parent notified the district of her intention to obtain an independent assessment and named the assessor. The district’s response failed to comply with IDEA (20 U.S.C. § 1415(b)(1); 34 C.F.R.§ 300.502(a)(1); Cal. Educ. Code § 56329, subd. (b)):

  1. Conditioned its agreement on the District’s supposed right to select its own so-called independent assessor.
  2. Did not provide parent with a list of potential evaluators or the agency criteria it required.
  3. Did not have, nor publish, agency criteria.
  4. Utilized an assessment plan and timelines that constituted time limits that exceeded the scope of permissible agency criteria for conducting an IEE.

When a parent requests an IEE, districts only have two alternatives:

  1. Grant the request and provide the parents with a list of potential evaluators as well as the agency criteria. The agency criteria may be specific to the district or published by the SELPA (Special Educations Local Planning Area).
  2. Refuse the request and file for due process without “unnecessary delay.”

In the Roseville case, the district did neither and was ordered to reimburse the parent for the IEE.

As stated in the Roseville decision, parents have the right to select an evaluator and school districts cannot restrict a parent’s choice of an evaluator to its list. (Letter to Parker 104 IDELR 155 (Off. of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, February 20, 2004)) A parent has the final choice of the evaluator to conduct an examination, but it must follow the school district agency criteria for an IEE, which can only be the same criteria that the school district uses for its evaluations, including the qualifications of the examiner. (34 C.F.R. § 300.502(e)(1))

*LEA: This term is often synonymous with "school district" but also can refer to any entity responsible for the child’s education, such as the County Office of Education, County Mental Health Department, California Children’s Services, etc.

Wiki Sample Letters

If a parent disagrees with an LEA’s assessment and wants to pursue an IEE, the parent should let the agency know in writing. See our sample letter requesting an IEE which includes instructions and a listing of all statutes/laws referenced in the letter.