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IDEA Complaint Decision 24-020

On January 19, 2024, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from #### (parent) against the #### (district). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue identified is whether the district, beginning January 19, 2023, properly responded to the request of a parent of a student with a disability for an independent educational evaluation (IEE).
An IEE is an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not an employee of the student's school district. A parent has the right to an IEE at public expense if the parent disagrees with the district's special education evaluation. Upon receiving a request for an IEE, a school district must respond to the request for an IEE without unnecessary delay by ensuring that an IEE is provided at public expense or requesting a due process hearing to show that its evaluation is appropriate. 34 CFR § 300.502. The district must inform parents about where an IEE may be obtained and the district’s IEE criteria. 34 CFR § 300.502
The student who is the subject of this complaint attends fourth grade in the district. On June 5, 2023, an IEP team convened to consider the student’s eligibility for special education services. The IEP team considered eligibility under the disability category of speech or language impairment and found the student eligible for special education services. During an IEP team meeting on October 26, 2023, the student’s parent expressed several concerns regarding the student, including spelling, reading decoding, working memory, social-emotional differences, organizational difficulties, conversational difficulties, sensory processing differences, oppositional-defiant disorder, and Tourette’s disorder. The student’s parent also suggested the student needed additional support for organization, understanding assignments, visual materials, staying on task, and extended time on tests. Additionally, the parent wanted more communication regarding any changes or suggestions regarding the student’s behaviors. The IEP team found that the student is performing as a typical fourth grade student in all of the functional areas of concern expressed by the parent. However, the district suggested it could conduct another reevaluation to specifically address the parent’s concerns.
On October 26, 2023, after the IEP team meeting, the parent requested an IEE in an email to the district’s special education director, citing disagreement with the district’s evaluation and describing in detail the concerns expressed in the IEP team meeting. On October 31, 2023, the special education director responded by email repeating the district’s offer to reevaluate the student. The student’s parent responded promptly that they wished to continue with the IEE process rather than accepting the district’s offer to conduct a reevaluation.
On November 1, 2023, the special education director provided two emails to the parent. The first email presented the district’s school board policy on IEEs. The IEE policy explained the right to an IEE at public expense if a parent disagrees with a district evaluation. The policy described the district’s minimum qualifications for IEE evaluators. The second email provided a list of potential IEE evaluators and identified a person employed by a cooperative educational service agency (CESA) as a contact when the parent was ready to move forward with an IEE. The parent promptly responded with multiple questions for the special education director, including questions about the right person to contact based on prior experiences with IEEs.
On November 13, 2023, the parent emailed the identified contact to move forward on the IEE with their selected evaluators. The contact referred the parent to a second contact employed by a different nearby CESA. The parent emailed the second contact on November 15, 2023, and November 18, 2023. The second contact called the parent on November 18, 2023. On November 29, 2023, the district’s special education director explained the next steps, including consent forms, and plans to secure the evaluators.
On December 6, 2023, the director learned that the list of suggested evaluators had changed and provided a new list to the parent. The parent made selections from the list the same day, but the selected evaluators were not currently available. On December 7, 2023, the director responded that the process would be faster if the parent chose available evaluators from the CESA, but the parent could proceed with other evaluators if that was their preference. The parent chose the CESA evaluators.
The district signed a contract with the CESA to provide the IEE over the winter break. On January 19, 2024, the parent canceled an informational meeting with CESA staff scheduled for January 22, 2024. The district provided a consent for reevaluation form on January 23, 2024, which the parent signed on February 6, 2024. Examiners conducted assessments on February 23, 2024, and March 1, 2024. When assessments are complete, the examiners will inform the district. The district will then schedule an IEP team meeting to discuss the results of the IEE.
The district properly responded to the parent’s request for an IEE. On November 1, 2023, the district responded to the parent’s October 26, 2023, request by informing the parent of the district's IEE criteria and providing a list of potential evaluators, including a CESA contact. Although some delays were caused by the list of potential examiners being outdated and selected evaluators not being available, the district continually worked with the parent to ensure an IEE would be provided at public expense.
This concludes our review of this complaint. This decision is final for the IDEA State Complaint process. These issues may be addressed through other dispute resolutions, including mediation and due process hearings. For more information, visit the department’s website at or contact the special education team at (608) 266-1781.
For questions about this information, contact (608) 266-1781