The parent wants us to pay for an IEE that we think is too expensive. What do we do?

A Texas hearing officer recently ruled in favor of a school district that put a cap on how much it would pay for an IEE—an Independent Educational Evaluation.  Districts are allowed to have criteria pertaining to IEEs, including cost controls. This case involved a parent’s request for an independent evaluation for autism that would run $7,200, and that would not include the cost of a Functional Behavioral Assessment. The FBA would be done at $125/hour and could add up to an additional $9,700.  This exceeded the district’s cap.  The parent also requested a speech evaluation that was going to cost $1,500—four times the district’s cap.

The law is clear that districts can have “caps” on what it will pay, but there are two important caveats to add. First, “unique circumstances” must always be recognized and accommodated.  Second, the district has to base its cap on realistic and accurate information. You can’t just pick a number out of the air. Here, the hearing officer concluded that the “district’s evidence on appropriate costs of IEEs was based on substantial objective data relevant to the issues presented by the parties.”  The paragraph citing how the district did this is worth quoting in full:

The district has adopted operating guidelines for independent educational evaluations and their costs.  The guidelines are based upon research in typical costs for evaluations within the geographic area, consideration of the evaluator’s credentials and the unique needs of the student, and approximations of costs up to 35% higher than Medicaid rates for the service. Data to establish the guidelines is gathered from two regional education service center regions and includes objective data from school districts, various professionals and private providers.

The case is Student v. Lewisville ISD, decided by hearing officer Lucius Bunton on June 5, 2015.  The docket number of the case is 107-SE-1214, and you can find it on the T.E.A. website: