Dear Director of Special Education,
Re: (students full name)
Recently my (son's/daughter's) IEP team did an assessment (list the assessments) with which I disagreed with. I requested an independent educational evaluation, IEE. The school district approved the IEE but authorized only ($????) for the (list the evaluations). As parents we are entitled to an objective, non- partisan, independent, qualified professional, not affiliated with any school district in any way, who can do an (list evaluation), including the observation and IEP attendance as your district requires. That is impossible with the restrictive amount you have set as a guideline. It is an unreasonable maximum.
We have communicated with three local psychologists, each of whom have done IEEs in Maricopa County. The estimate from (call 3 Doctors that perform these evaluations and the price and difference in serves vs billing. ALWAYS USE PRIVATE PRACTICE)
The federal regulations implementing the IDEA provide the following:
If an independent educational evaluation is at public expense, the criteria under which the evaluation is obtained, including the location of the evaluation and the qualifications of the examiner, must be the same as the criteria that the public agency uses when it initiates an evaluation, to the extent those criteria are consistent with the parent's right to an independent educational evaluation.
Except for the criteria described [above]â€¦, a public agency may not impose conditions or timelines related to obtaining an independent educational evaluation at public expense.
34 C.F.R. Section 300.502
The IDEA does NOT allow districts to restrict the parentâ€™s right to an IEE. While regulations allow the district to identify the qualifications of the evaluator and the location of the evaluation, no other restrictions can be made if they interfere with the parentâ€™s right to obtain an IEE. Your price maximums are inhibiting our parentsâ€™ right to obtain an independent IEE that is sufficiently comprehensive to provide relevant information and also comply with your other restrictions (mandating an observation, a report, and presentation to an IEP team). While OSEP letters speak about the ability of districts to identify cost guidelines, the only permissible rationale for such criteria is to prevent excessive costs. None of the estimated hourly fees are excessive. If you were to contact your own school psychologists and ask how many hours they tested the student, observed the student, reviewed the studentâ€™s records, spoke to student, parents, teachers, wrote their report, etc., and tallied up the hours, I suspect you will find that they all spend as many or more hours than are currently estimated by each of the Phoenix psychologists contacted. As their hourly fees are within the range of other similarly situated private practitioners, your cost restriction is unreasonable.
Your cost restrictions are limiting our parentâ€™s right to an IEE. This is to advise (school district) that we are selecting (your doctor choice) practice and will expect reimbursement from the district for the full cost of the evaluation conducted, whatever it may be. I will contract with the evaluator no earlier than 14 days after the date of this letter in order to give you an opportunity to file due process to establish that the estimated costs do not meet your criteria and that your criteria are reasonable. The United States Department of Education has identified an impartial hearing â€“ rather than unilateral refusal of reimbursement- as the proper district recourse if you think that the expenses to be incurred in an IEE are unreasonable.
See Letter to Petska, 35 IDELR 191 (OSEP 2001); Letter to Wilson, 16 EHLR 83 (OSEP 1989); Letter to Fields, EHLR 213 (OSERS 1989).