What Is an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)?

Why this assessment could help your child

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What is the definition of an independent educational evaluation (IEE) and how might it benefit your child? Get the facts on what an IEE is with this overview.

Why Are IEEs Important?

An IEE is an evaluation of a child for the purposes of determining a special education program that is performed by personnel outside of the school system. That's why simply put an IEE is called an "outside evaluation." The right of parents to have an IEE is outlined in the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, a federal law designed with students with disabilities in mind.

An IEE can determine if a child has a learning disability or other disorder and the educational services most suitable to the student as a result.

Parents have the right to choose an outside evaluator of their choice. School districts often provide a list of the names and contact information of evaluators for parents to consult. Districts also publish the cost criteria of these evaluators. 

While districts may provide such lists to parents, they do not have any say in which evaluator a parent ultimately chooses to assess their child. Parents may also choose an evaluator not featured on the district list, but there should be a good reason why. For example, no evaluator on the district list has the expertise necessary to address the variety of ways a specific learning disability may affect their child. In this situation, the district should reimburse the parents for going outside of the network.

You might pursue an IEE if your district refuses to evaluate your child or if you feel the school's evaluation was incomplete. Parents also consider having and IEE when they disagree with the conclusions of the school's evaluation process. 

The school personnel responsible for planning your child's educational program are required to consider the information presented in the IEE but are not required to act on it.

 Parents often pay for an IEE themselves, but if it is conducted as the result of a dispute or if the school uses the information contained in it, the district may be required to pay.

Deciding to Obtain an IEE

It's not uncommon for parents to clash with school personnel about the services their child needs. Before having an IEE performed, you may first want to see if there's anyone at your child's current school with whom you can reach a compromise of sorts about the challenges your child faces and the best way to help him. In many cases, school personnel and parents both want the same thing: the education that's in the child's best interests.

Of course, if you have reason to believe this is not the case, obtaining an outside evaluator may be your only recourse. Some parents in these situations may also decide to switch their children to a different school--public, private or parochial. Sometimes parents even homeschool their children because of seemingly irreconcilable disagreements with school personnel about their child's learning challenges and the services needed as a result.

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