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The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) gives you the right to have your child evaluated independently. This means you have the right to have your child evaluated by someone other than school employees. The purpose of the evaluation is to evaluate whether your child has a disability and, if so, determine his or her special needs. In some cases, you may pay for an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE). In other cases, you may ask the school system to pay for it. If the school system pays for the IEE, this is known as an "IEE at public expense."

Why would I want to request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at public expense?

Sometimes a parent may feel that the results of the school's evaluation do not accurately describe the child. Some parents may want additional academic tests or medical exams. Or they may be interested in having evaluations done in skill areas the school staff did not test. Parents can choose to have their child tested outside the school system, for these or other reasons. However, the right to an IEE at public expense arises only when the school has conducted an evaluation and you disagree with it.

If you want the school to pay for an IEE, it is best to make your request before any independent testing is done. The school may ask you for your reasons for the IEE request. You are not required to explain your reasons but if you do, the school may agree with you that more testing is appropriate. Some reasons you may want to request an independent evaluation include:

  • You believe the original evaluation was incorrect.
  • The original evaluation was not done in your child's native language.
  • You believe that the original evaluation was incomplete and additional tests are needed.
  • The evaluation was not done with the needed accommodations (for example, in Braille or administered by someone who knows sign language).

The school system may agree to your request and pay for the IEE. On the other hand, the school system may deny your request and ask for a hearing to show that its evaluation was appropriate. You will have the chance at this hearing to state your reasons why the school system should be required to pay for the IEE. An impartial third person (called a hearing officer) listens to and reviews the evidence. This individual then decides if the school system must pay for an independent evaluation. If the hearing officer decides in favor of the school system, you may still obtain an independent evaluation, but you must pay for it. The results of the IEE must be considered by the school in any decision made regarding your child's free appropriate public education. If the school does not request a hearing to dispute your request for an IEE, the school must pay for the IEE.

You can send the following sample letter by email or by mail.

Sample Letter

Date (include month, day, and year)

Name of Principal
Name of School
Street Address
City, State, Zip Code

Dear (Name of Principal),

My (son/daughter), (child's name) is in the (number of grade) grade, at (name of school), in (teacher's name) class. (He/She) was evaluated for special education services in (month/year). I do not feel that the school's evaluation of my child is appropriate and I am writing to request an Independent Educational Evaluation at public expense.

Please tell me in writing of the criteria under which the independent evaluation must be conducted so that this evaluation will meet the criteria the school uses in its evaluation. Also, please give me a written list of places where I may obtain an independent evaluation for my child.

I understand that the school must pay for the independent evaluation unless it requests a hearing to prove that its evaluation was appropriate and the hearing officer agrees.

I will send you the results of the independent evaluation. I understand the results of that evaluation must be considered in any future decisions about my child's education.

Thank you for your help. I look forward to hearing from you within five school days of the date from which you receive this letter.

Your Name
Street Address
City, State, Zip Code
Daytime telephone number

Return to list of Sample Letters

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