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IDEA Complaint Decision 11-002

On January 13, 2011, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Dover #1 School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2010-2011 school year, properly responded to a request for an independent educational evaluation (IEE).

Each school district must ensure that parents of a child with a disability have the ability to obtain an IEE of their child. A parent has a right to an IEE at public expense if the parent disagrees with an evaluation obtained by the school district. A biological parent is presumed to be a parent for purposes of the IDEA, unless the biological parent does not have legal authority to make educational decisions for the child.

On November 18, 2010, the complainant, a biological parent, requested a list of independent evaluators from the district in which his four children are enrolled. The district responded to the request and provided a list of independent evaluators to the parent in a letter dated December 2, 2010. The parent then obtained a court order, dated December 28, 2010, that permitted him to obtain an independent education evaluation (IEE) for each of his four children. The order does not require public funding for the IEEs.

In this case, the complainant does not have educational decision making authority because he does not have legal custody. The family court judge ordered temporary sole legal custody and primary placement with the children’s mother. An individual with legal custody has the right and responsibility to make major decisions concerning the children, which includes a right to make educational decisions.

The school district properly responded to a request for an IEE for the 2010-2011 school year by providing the parent with a list of independent evaluators. Pursuant to the court order, the complainant is entitled to obtain an IEE for each of his four children, but the complainant does not have a right to obtain public funding for the IEEs.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.

//signed CST/SJP 3/11/11
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy