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Thursday, July 24, 2014
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Independent Educational Evaluation Guidelines

INDEPENDENT EDUCATIONAL EVALUATION GUIDELINES


If a parent disagrees with the District’s assessment of the student, they have the right to request an IEE at public expense. An Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) is an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not employed by SSD. Parents have the right at anytime to obtain an IEE and have its findings considered by an IEP team.

Public expense means that the Standard School District pays for the full cost of the evaluation or evaluation components, up to the limits established by the District, or ensures that the evaluation or evaluation components are otherwise provided at no cost to the parent. Parents may only request one publicly funded evaluation for each evaluation completed by the District. The parents must request the IEE within one calendar year of the date that the results of the school evaluation were shared with parent(s) at the IEP meeting. The District does not have an obligation to reimburse parents for privately obtained evaluations, obtained prior to the date that the District’s evaluation is completed and discussed at an IEP meeting. The District is not obligated to reimburse the parent(s) for privately obtained evaluations if the parent(s) disagree with the District’s evaluation and independently seek a private evaluation without first notifying the District. To avoid conflict of interest, and in order to ensure the appropriateness of an IEE and its recommendations, the District may, in its discretion, not fund an IEE by an evaluator who provides ongoing service(s) or is sought to provide service(s) to the student for whom the IEE is requested. Likewise, the District may, in its discretion, not fund services through the evaluator whose IEE the District agrees to fund.

If a request for an IEE at public expense is requested, this procedure will be followed:

1. If the request for an IEE is made at an IEP meeting, the parent will be asked which of the areas of assessment they disagree with and why. The Team Meeting Notes of the IEP will document that there has been a disagreement with the assessment(s), the area(s) of disagreement, the reason(s), and that an IEE at public expense has been requested.

Note: Parents are not required to explain why they disagree.

2. If the request for an IEE is made outside of an IEP meeting, the parent will be informed that the request must be in writing and indicate the assessment(s) with which they disagree. It would be helpful in considering the request to know why the parent disagrees with the assessment(s).

3. Parent will be provided a copy of A Parent’s Guide to Special Education Services (Including Procedural Rights and Safeguards).

• Parent will be advised that if the District disagrees with their request for an IEE at public expense because it believes that its assessment was appropriate, that the District will initiate a due process hearing to determine if an IEE at public expense is required.

• Parent will be advised that if the District or a hearing officer determines that an IEE is required that they will be informed of the criteria (specified above) and procedures for securing the IEE at public expense. The District will not pay for an IEE performed prior to a determination that it is required or for an IEE that is not consistent with District criteria and procedures.

• Parent will be advised that if an IEE at public expense is not required, they may obtain an IEE at their own expense and have it considered.

Note: If the parents intend to obtain an IEE at their own expense, in order for the IEE report to be considered by the district, it must have been conducted by an examiner the district deems qualified. (See list below.)

4. The request for an IEE at public expense shall be forwarded to the Director of Student Support Services (DSSS) and will include the written request and/or the student’s IEP and a copy of the assessment report(s) that the parent disagrees with.

5. The (DSSS) will review the District assessment with the appropriate discipline to determine if an IEE will be offered at public expense. If the DSSS agrees to provide an IEE at public expense, a referral will be made to an independent assessor who meets the districts criteria (i.e., degrees, licensure, credentialing, etc.). If the parent chooses to use a person not on the list, the person must meet the same criteria for qualified examiners named in this policy. If the District does not agree with the assessor selected by the parent, the District may initiate a due process hearing to have matter adjudicated.

6. Once the independent assessor has been located, the DSSS will provide the parent and the designated assessor with IEE requirements, and an assessment plan will be developed.

The parent will be encouraged to participate in the development of the assessment plan. Within 15 calendar days of the decision of obtaining an IEE, the parent will be sent the assessment plan for their review and consent.

Note: If the assessment conducted by the District included or permitted an in-class observation of the student, an equivalent opportunity is to be made available to the individual retained by the parent to conduct an independent educational evaluation. If the District assessment in the area of concern was conducted more than one year previous to parent disagreement, the District has a right to conduct another assessment. The District will not cover costs exceeding rates that are reasonable and customary for the community for each identified assessment.

A. QUALIFIED EXAMINERS
Consistent with District policy the following professionals are deemed qualified to conduct IEEs. Examiners with credentials other than those listed below are not qualified unless the parent can demonstrate the appropriateness of using an examiner with other credentials.
Qualifications of Acceptable Assessment Personnel

Credentialed Special Education Teacher (Master’s Degree)
Licensed Educational Psychologist, or School Psychologist (Credentialed)

Credentialed Adaptive Behavior Special Education Teacher (Master’s Degree)

Certified Assistive Technology Specialist
Licensed/Credentialed Speech/Language Pathologist

Licensed Physical Therapist, or Registered Occupational Therapist

Certificated/Credentialed Audiologist

Licensed Physician (for general health issues only, not for psychological diagnoses)
Licensed Psychiatrist

Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)

Social Worker (LCSW)

Licensed Clinical Psychologist from an APA-accredited training program

Functional Vision Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired (Master’s Degree)

B. QUALIFIED & ACCEPTABLE ASSESSMENT METHODS
In the general case, SSD requires that assessment methods used in IEE’s must have appropriate construct and criterion validity and reliability, as defined by the general school and educational psychology academic community. This includes but is not limited to assessment methods/tests which are nationally or locally norm-referenced standardized assessments. Direct narrative and anecdotal observational recording and systematic behavioral observation methods are acceptable. Assessment protocol must follow the diagnostic guidelines set forth in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA). Purported diagnostic classifications resulting in an assessment must be under the auspices of IDEIA, not DSM-IV.  

C. UNACCEPTABLE ASSESSMENT METHODS
Unacceptable assessment methods include any projective method or otherwise highly inferential assessment approach, or approaches resulting in impressions that are not clearly supported by empirically validated construct validity data. Also unacceptable are the “impressions”, or  “diagnoses” from physicians’ visits, in the absence of any physician-requested input from that child’s school district, such as rating scale data, observations, etc,  Examples of unacceptable assessment methods include the Thematic Apperception Test, House-Tree-Person, Draw-A-Man test, Bender-Gestalt and VMI (when used to infer anything other than child’s ability to copy geometric designs), Sentence Completion Test, or any other assessment approach in the projective domain. The District retains the right to determine what is not and what may be acceptable under this domain.

D. CONSIDERING AN IEE
It is important for parents to understand that  Standard School District – not an outside evaluator (even a physician) – retains the right to determine whether or not a child needs and qualifies for special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) or under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504). Special education law states that school districts must “consider” the evaluation results of outside evaluators in making special education eligibility decisions. Standard School District will comply with both the spirit and letter of the law. In making such considerations, here are some guidelines Standard School District will follow:

1. In the case of an outside mental health evaluation conducted by any of the above-mentioned acceptable evaluators, such as a licensed clinical psychologist, social worker (LCSW), or other mental health agent resulting in a diagnosis of any kind:

a. Standard School District will consider whether or not that evaluator has used assessment methods/procedures that would be considered appropriate under IDEIA and local policy (i.e., use of low-inference, empirically supported assessment methods validated for the purpose for which they are used) and,

b. whether or not any resulting diagnostic classification falls under the umbrella of IDEIA. Children will not be placed in special education on the basis of psychiatric/psychological diagnoses that do not conform to IDEIA assessment or diagnostic standards.


As stated under “C” above, assessment methods not acceptable under either IDEIA (i.e., methods that are not validated for the purpose for which they are used) or local district policy (i.e., the use of non-empirically supported methods, indirect assessment methods such as projective methods “clinical impressions” or other high-inference assessment methods) will be weighted less heavily than  district-approved methods. Likewise, diagnostic classifications that do not fall directly under IDEIA, for example, Conduct Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Attachment Disorder, ADHD, etc. will not automatically gain a child entrance to special education programs or Section 504 accommodation programs. However, all evidence will be considered by the school district in its deliberations, as required by law.


2. In the case of an evaluation conducted by a physician (psychiatrist or otherwise) resulting in a psychological diagnosis having no known, directly-measurable, biological cause, Standard School District will request from the physician, via the parent, the evidence on which the diagnosis is based:

a. For example, if a psychiatrist diagnoses a child as ADHD, Standard School District will weigh that diagnosis more heavily if the physician has received input (i.e., rating scale data, systematic observational data) from school personnel (teachers, school psychologist) in making the diagnosis, rather than making that diagnosis on the basis of an office visit and parent interview alone. The fact that a child is given medication for a suspected disorder in the absence of any objective evidence for the disorder will be weighed less heavily in making eligibility determinations.

b. A psychological diagnosis made in the absence of any rating scale data, or any direct behavioral observations in the child’s natural environment, or other objective evidence, despite the fact that medication has been prescribed for the purported condition, will be weighed less heavily in making eligibility determinations than if the diagnosis were made in a more objective fashion.

In either case (#’s 1 & 2 above) Standard School District will retain the right to determine eligibility for special education services under IDEIA and under Section 504.

As noted above an IEE report, provided by a parent, must be considered by an IEP team, if it was conducted by a qualified professional. To facilitate careful consideration, parents should be encouraged to provide the report in advance of the meeting so it can be reviewed by District personnel qualified in the area of the evaluation. It is often helpful to have the person(s) conducting the review attend the IEP meeting.

Note: California policy requires that an IEE pertaining to the provision of related services or designated instruction and services must be reviewed by qualified District personnel in the designated area, and that their recommendations must be reviewed and discussed with the parent(s) and appropriate IEP team members prior to the IEP meeting.

 


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