District's Failure to Provide Parent with Independent Educational Evaluation Criteria Violates the IDEA

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District's Failure to Provide Parent with Independent Educational Evaluation Criteria Violates the IDEA

In Bellflower Unified School District, (115 LRP 30396) June 23, 2015, the California State Education Agency ruled that the school district's failure to provide a mother with information on her right to select an evaluator on the district's pre approved list and not giving her the criteria the district used for independent evaluators caused a delay in the students Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE).

The case arose when the student, an 8 year old in second grade, was determined ineligible for special education services by an IEP team. The mother requested an IEE, at public expense, in the area of psych-education, but she did not request a particular evaluator. The district agreed to fund the IEE and offered three names of potential evaluators. In its response, the district did not provide any information about the IEE process, it's criteria for selecting evaluators. As the California SEA noted:

"Specifically, District did not explain that the criteria under which an IEE is obtained must be the same as the criteria used by District when it initiates an evaluation, which includes the location of the evaluation, the maximum cost for the evaluation, and the minimum qualifications of the evaluator. District did not provide information on Mother's opportunity to select a qualified evaluator who was not on District's preapproved list, but met District's IEE criteria. District did not provide information on reasonable cost criteria and reimbursement procedures if Mother were to advance the costs of an IEE."

The mother then sent a second IEE request, but this time she requested an evaluator that was not on the school district's list. The district denied her request and advised the mother that she could pay for that evaluator out of her own pocket. The mother then requested a hearing.

The California SEA ruled for the mother. The mother had the right to choose an evaluator not on the district's list, so long as that evaluator met the district's criteria. Here, the district  had not provided her with its criteria for independent evaluators, but the evaluator the mother chose did meet that criteria. The district's failure to approve the mother's request for the IEE within a timely manner, resulted in a delay of the evaluation. To remedy this violation, the school district was ordered to pay for the costs of the evaluation by the evaluator selected by the mother and to pay for the evaluator to attend the subsequent IEP meeting.

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