The North Colonie Central School District (“District”) has established the following policy regarding independent educational evaluations for children with educational disabilities or for children who are referred to the Committee on Special Education (“CSE”) because they are suspected of having an educational disability and may, therefore, be in need of special education.
Parents of disabled children have the right under Federal and State regulations to obtain an independent educational evaluation at public expense under certain conditions. Regulatory standards are outlined in New York State Regulations of the commissioner of Education Part 200.5(g). Additionally, Federal Regulations (34 CFR 300.502) specify requirements for independent educational evaluations. These documents, in addition to A Parent’s Guide to Special Education: Your Child’s Right to an Education in New York State, detail independent educational evaluation requirements. These documents are available from the District for parent(s) who desire additional information.
The District has adopted this policy regarding independent educational evaluations in order to explain the rights of parents and the responsibilities of school districts with regard to independent evaluations and also to avoid any misunderstandings.
An independent educational evaluation (“IEE”) means an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner(s) who is not employed by the District responsible for the education of the disabled child or child who is thought to be educationally disabled. The purpose of the evaluation is to determine the child’s eligibility for special education or related services and to develop a plan to meet the child’s educational needs.
It is important the District have the opportunity to complete a multidisciplinary evaluation prior to the request for an IEE. If the parent disagrees with the evaluation conducted by the District, the parent may have a right to obtain an IEE at public expense. A parent is entitled to only one IEE at public expense each time the District conducts an evaluation with which the parent disagrees.
When a parent disagrees with a District evaluation he/ she must request an IEE in writing within a reasonable time period. In response, the District may request the parent to specify the areas of disagreement with the District’s evaluation. Without unreasonable delay, the District must ensure an IEE at public expense or initiate an impartial hearing to show that its evaluation is appropriate, and if the hearing officer determines the school’s evaluation is appropriate, the parent would not have the right to a publicly funded IEE or the right to reimbursement for an IEE they may have already obtained.
III. Public Expense
Public expense means that the District either pays for the full cost of the IEE or ensures that the evaluation is otherwise provided at no cost to the parent. The District has established reasonable reimbursement rates for independent evaluators based upon standard and customary charges for such evaluators that do not exceed the costs which the District would be required to pay to its own employees. An IEE may require an individual psychological evaluation, a physical examination, a social history, an observation of the student in the student’s learning environment, and other suitable examinations and evaluations as may be necessary to ascertain the physical, mental and emotional factors which contribute to a suspected educational disability. In the absence of unusual circumstances, costs of such evaluations will be deemed reasonable and allowable in accordance with the fee schedule included in Appendix A. The selected evaluator will be notified of the District’s maximum allowable fees prior to the evaluation by the CSE office.
When an IEE is requested and approved by the school and an independent evaluator is selected by the parent from the approved list, it then becomes the responsibility of that professional to contact the school to arrange for payment, dates of classroom visitations and discussions with school staff.
A school district has the responsibility to designate a geographic area within which the parents would be limited in their search for an independent evaluator. Unless unique circumstances exist, parents are limited to a radius of 75 miles from the District which to have an IEE performed. Requests for exception to this policy will be forwarded to the District’s CSE Chairperson.
V. Listing of Qualified Professionals
The District has established a comprehensive list of qualified professionals in private practice or employees of other public agencies to whom parents may go to secure an IEE. The list of independent evaluators includes professionals in all areas of a child’s suspected disability. In addition, the District will pay for an evaluation performed by an employee of any other public school district or BOCES within the State of New York whom the parent chooses to employ as an independent evaluator at the then current hourly rate paid to that licensed or certified individual by their respective public school district or BOCES.
VI. Selection and Payment of Evaluations
The District may pay for an IEE or assessment only if conducted by an individual who possesses current license or certification from the New York State Education Department in the area of the evaluation. The District will permit parents to select any independent evaluator who is in the public phone books within a radius of 75 miles from the District at the time the parent makes a request for an IEE, as long as the qualified professional selected by the parent is a certified and/or license evaluator.
IEEs requested by parents which typically would not be conducted by school certified/licensed staff members would require parent(s) to demonstrate unique circumstances in order to justify such an IEE that does not fall within the District’s responsibility to provide a free, appropriate public education.
The District, upon receiving a request for reimbursement for an IEE, will forward an acknowledgement letter to the parent and/or independent evaluator within ten (10) calendar days. Any further information needed by the District to reach a decision, regarding payment will be requested in the letter.
If denial for reimbursement is indicated, the reason(s) for that denial, as well as the intention of the District to initiate a hearing to defend this refusal will be addressed to parents in writing. Conversely, if the District agrees to pay for an IEE, the parents will be notified by letter.
VII. District Use of the Independent Educational Evaluation
If the parent obtains an IEE at public expense or shares with the District an IEE obtained at private expenses, the results of the IEE will be considered by the District if it meets the District’s criteria, in any decisions made with respect to the provision of a free appropriate public education for the student. IEE’s may also be presented as evidence at a hearing conducted by the public school district or requested by the parent. A hearing officer may also request an IEE at public expense as part of a hearing.
VIII. Further Information
The District has developed this policy regarding IEE’s in order to avoid any misunderstandings and to ensure that the District is following their responsibility to provide IEE’s at parent request. Parents can obtain further information on IEE’s by contacting the Pupil Services Director at the Pupil Services Office. Parents can also contact the State Education Department for additional information on independent evaluations by contacting the Office for Special Education Services at (518) 473-1185.
Adopted: October 24, 2011