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(2.28) Can the district limit the cost of an independent evaluation and limit the evaluator to someone it selects?

(2.28) Can the district limit the cost of an independent evaluation and limit the evaluator to someone it selects?

Neither federal or state law nor their regulations limit the cost of an IEE. However, the U.S. Department of Education has taken the position that school districts may set cost containment criteria (cost caps) for IEEs so long as the caps do not prevent parents from obtaining an IEE. As a result, school districts may set reasonable caps reflecting the usual and customary rates in their community for each area of expertise. School districts must also provide parents an opportunity to show that the cost caps should not apply due to unique factors in their child’s case. [See Comments on IDEA regulations at 71 Fed. Reg. 46689.]

The school district is permitted to have agency criteria for conducting an IEE such as location of the evaluation and the qualifications of independent assessors. The IEE criteria must be the same as the criteria used by the district in its evaluations and must be consistent with a parent’s right to an IEE. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.502(e)(1).]

The school district may not impose any other conditions or timelines related to obtaining an IEE such as which qualified assessor you use. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.502(e).] There is no legal authority requiring parents to select an IEE evaluator from a district’s preapproved list. However, the district does have the duty to inform parents where they could obtain an IEE. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.502(a)(2).] You should make sure the evaluator is not a district employee and that he has the necessary qualifications to do the assessment. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.502(a)(3)(i).]

In some cases, the district may offer an assessment by a California Diagnostic Center, which is a division of the California Department of Education (CDE). The Diagnostic Center is designed to assist districts which do not have the expertise to do a particular assessment. While you may want to consider an assessment by a Diagnostic Center, there are two reasons why you may not want to accept this alternative:

  1. Due to waiting lists, the Diagnostic Center may take up to six months to complete an assessment; and
  2. Because the Diagnostic Center is a public agency that has a continuing relationship with your district, its assessment may be more limited in its recommendations.