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  • Writer's pictureAdam Dayan, Esq.

Individual Educational Evaluation (IEE)

Parents always want to know if they can get the Department of Education to pay for or reimburse them for the cost of obtaining a private psychological evaluation. Under federal and state law, a parent has the right to an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) paid for by the DOE if the parent disagrees with an evaluation obtained by the DOE. Once the parent requests this, the DOE must either fight the request and show that the evaluations it did were appropriate, OR arrange for the IEE. An IEE may be an evaluation conducted at an approved evaluation center which would be done at no expense to the parent, or the parent might obtain a private evaluation on her own and seek reimbursement for that expense. If the law clearly sets out guidelines for achieving this, why is it actually very difficult to do? It has to do with the fact that the district will fight you on it and the standard for showing that their own findings were inappropriate is very high and difficult to overcome.

SRO (Munoz) decision 10-072 deals with the issue of IEE's. The facts are a bit convoluted but the main issue was the parents disagreed with the DOE's findings and wanted the DOE to pay for a private evaluation. The hearing officer explained that (1) the parents must have objected to the evaluation conducted by the DOE, and (2) the type of evaluation for which the parents are seeking reimbursement must be the same as the type of evaluation done by the DOE. There was some disagreement about whether the private evaluation obtained by the parents was a psychological evaluation or a neuropsychological evaluation, but it didn't really matter because the hearing officer ruled that the parent had not properly disagreed. Therefore, the school district was not obligated to reimburse the parent for the private evaluation (which is somewhat weird because the facts suggest that the school district had already paid the parent $3,000 out of the $3,500 it cost for the private evaluation). The hearing officer also relied on the principle of "res judicata" in ruling that since the parents could have brought up this issue previously and didn't, they could not bring it up now. (In a prior hearing, the parents had initially sued for reimbursement for the private evaluation but then withdrew that request and filed it again later on.) The SRO upheld the determination by the hearing officer and explained that "res judicata precludes parties from litigating issues that were or could have been raised in a prior proceeding."

So parents should remember to clearly express disagreement with the DOE's evaluation and make sure that the private evaluation is the same type as the DOE's. And more generally: if a parent has had a full opportunity to raise an issue in a previous proceeding, and the current proceeding involves the same people as the last, the parents may be prevented from raising that issue again.


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