Parents of students with disabilities can obtain an IEE (Independent Educational Evaluation) whenever they want. But if they want the school district to pay for it, they have to wait for the district to conduct its own evaluation and then disagree with it. This is the holding of the 3rd Circuit in M.S. v. Hillsborough Township Public School District.
This case was about a student who was due for a reevaluation in 2017. At first, the parents and the school agreed that the school would conduct this evaluation, but then the parents changed their minds. They withdrew consent for the evaluation and asked the district to pay for an independent evaluation—an IEE. The district refused, noting that it had not been allowed to complete its own evaluation. The school argued that parents can get a publicly funded IEE only when they disagree with the evaluation done by the school.
The court upheld the district’s position:
The right to a publicly funded IEE only arises after a disagreement over a public agency’s educational evaluation.
Based on the same rationale, the court concluded that the school district was not obligated to initiate a due process hearing to prove up the appropriateness of its own evaluation:
As the parents never objected, the right to request a publicly funded IEE never arose, and [the school district] had no duty to request a due process hearing.
The court ordered that this decision be “unpublished.” That’s misleading. It is published at LRP’s Special Ed Connection, which is where the Dawg sniffed it out. “Unpublished” means that it will not be published in the official reports that courts rely on for judicial precedent. Nevertheless, it’s an important look at how a high level court views this issue, which arises in public schools fairly often. The case was decided on December 13, 2019 and can be found at 119 LRP 46704.
DAWG BONE: PARENTS CAN GET AN IEE WHENEVER THEY WANT, BUT CAN REQUIRE REIMBURSEMENT FOR IT ONLY AFTER THEY DISAGREE WITH THE DISTRICT’S EVALUATION.
More good stuff coming next week, Readers!