Accurate and updated information as of October 2021
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If you, as a parent of a child with a disability, do not agree with the results of the individualized evaluation of your child, as conducted by the school system, you have the right to obtain what is known as an Independent Educational Evaluation, or an IEE (§300.502). This means that you may ask that a professional, competent evaluator who is not employed by the school system conduct another evaluation of your child.
If you request an IEE of your child, the school must provide you with information about where you can obtain such an evaluation.
The answer to this question is that some IEEs are conducted at public expense (meaning, the school system pays for the evaluation), and others are paid for by the parents.
Let’s see how that works out! Let us say that you are the parent of a child with a disability and you don’t agree with the school’s evaluation of your child. You have the right to request an IEE at public expense. This means that the school system would pay for an entirely new and independent evaluation of your child.
The school may grant your request and pay for the IEE, or it may file a due process complaint and request a due process hearing to demonstrate that its own evaluation was appropriate. The school may ask you why you object to its evaluation, but it may not require that you explain, or cause unreasonable delays in providing the IEE at public expense or in initiating due process to defend its evaluation.
If the school initiates due process, and the final decision of the hearing officer is that the evaluation of the school was appropriate, you still have the right to an IEE but not at public expense. If you have an IEE conducted of your child, you will have to pay for it yourself.
Sometimes, as part of a due process hearing, the hearing officer will ask that an IEE be conducted of the child. If this happens, the evaluation must always be conducted at public expense.
When an IEE is paid for with public funds, it must comply with the same criteria that the school system uses when conducting an initial evaluation of a child. The school must tell parents what those criteria are—such as the location of the evaluation and the qualifications of the examiner. These criteria must be the same as those used by the school system for its own evaluation to the extent that these are consistent with the parents’ right to an IEE. Nonetheless, the school system may not impose other conditions or deadlines with respect to conducting the IEE at public expense.
As a parent of a child with a disability, you should know that you have a right to only one IEE at public expense each time the school conducts an evaluation of your child and you disagree with the findings of that evaluation. Of course, you always have the right to have your child evaluated independently at your own expense. (Note: When the same tests are repeated in a short period of time, the validity of the results decreases.)
The results of any evaluation must be considered by the school system (if that evaluation complies with the criteria used by the school system) in making any decision with respect to providing your child with a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The results may also be presented as evidence in a due process hearing.
You’ll find IDEA’s provisions regarding IEEs at §300.502 of its final regulations. We’ve put these below for parents who would like to read IDEA’s exact words.
§ 300.502 Independent educational evaluation.
(a) General. (1) The parents of a child with a disability have the right under this part to obtain an independent educational evaluation of the child, subject to paragraphs (b) through (e) of this section.
(2) Each public agency must provide to parents, upon request for an independent educational evaluation, information about where an independent educational evaluation may be obtained, and the agency criteria applicable for independent educational evaluations as set forth in paragraph (e) of this section.
(3) For the purposes of this subpart—
(i) Independent educational evaluation means an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the public agency responsible for the education of the child in question; and
(ii) Public expense means that the public agency either pays for the full cost of the evaluation or ensures that the evaluation is otherwise provided at no cost to the parent, consistent with §300.103.
(b) Parent right to evaluation at public expense.
(1) A parent has the right to an independent educational evaluation at public expense if the parent disagrees with an evaluation obtained by the public agency, subject to the conditions in paragraphs (b)(2) through (4) of this section.
(2) If a parent requests an independent educational evaluation at public expense, the public agency must, without unnecessary delay, either—
(i) File a due process complaint to request a hearing to show that its evaluation is appropriate; or
(ii) Ensure that an independent educational evaluation is provided at public expense, unless the agency demonstrates in a hearing pursuant to §§300.507 through 300.513 that the evaluation obtained by the parent did not meet agency criteria.
(3) If the public agency files a due process complaint notice to request a hearing and the final decision is that the agency’s evaluation is appropriate, the parent still has the right to an independent educational evaluation, but not at public expense.
(4) If a parent requests an independent educational evaluation, the public agency may ask for the parent’s reason why he or she objects to the public evaluation. However, the public agency may not require the parent to provide an explanation and may not unreasonably delay either providing the independent educational evaluation at public expense or filing a due process complaint to request a due process hearing to defend the public evaluation.
(5) A parent is entitled to only one independent educational evaluation at public expense each time the public agency conducts an evaluation with which the parent disagrees.
(c) Parent-initiated evaluations. If the parent obtains an independent educational evaluation at public expense or shares with the public agency an evaluation obtained at private expense, the results of the evaluation—
(1) Must be considered by the public agency, if it meets agency criteria, in any decision made with respect to the provision of FAPE to the child; and
(2) May be presented by any party as evidence at a hearing on a due process complaint under subpart E of this part regarding that child.
(d) Requests for evaluations by hearing officers. If a hearing officer requests an independent educational evaluation as part of a hearing on a due process complaint, the cost of the evaluation must be at public expense.
(e) Agency criteria. (1) If an independent educational evaluation is at public expense, the criteria under which the evaluation is obtained, including the location of the evaluation and the qualifications of the examiner, must be the same as the criteria that the public agency uses when it initiates an evaluation, to the extent those criteria are consistent with the parent’s right to an independent educational evaluation.
(2) Except for the criteria described in paragraph (e)(1) of this section, a public agency may not impose conditions or timelines related to obtaining an independent educational evaluation at public expense.
(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1415(b)(1) and (d)(2)(A))
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