Ask for an Independent Evaluation
If you think the school’s evaluation does not accurately measure your child’s need for special education, you may get an independent education evaluation (IEE) at your own expense and/or request an independent evaluation at the school’s expense.
Independent evaluations are done by qualifed persons who are not employed by the school. You may ask the school how and where to get an independent evaluation or you may get the independent evaluation done by someone not recommended by the school, as long as this person is qualifed to perform the evaluation.
If you ask the school to pay for the independent evaluation, the school must do so unless the school asks for a due process hearing to show its evaluation was appropriate. If you want the school to pay for the independent evaluation, the testing you get must meet the same requirements the school uses. You should notify school officials in writing if you want an independent evaluation and you expect the school to pay for it. Although the school can ask you, you do not have to tell the district why you disagree with their evaluation. You must say in your letter that you disagree with an evaluation obtained by the school. It is best to identify the school’s evaluation that you disagree with by name or date.
The ARD committee must discuss and equally consider independent evaluations, regardless of who pays for them, in any ARD committee decisions. They do not, however, have to accept any or all of the evaluator’s recommendations.
Ask for a Reevaluation
The school must conduct a reevaluation if they determine the educational or related services needs, including academic and functional performance of the student, warrant a reevaluation. They also must conduct a reevaluation if requested by the teacher or parent.
The school district is not required to conduct a reevaluation more than once a year unless there is an agreement between the school and parent to do so. The school shall conduct a reevaluation at least every three years, unless the parent and school agree it is not necessary. If the school thinks the three-year reevaluation is not necessary, but the parent does, the school must conduct the reevaluation anyway. If the student has not progressed in the general education curriculum as expected or has not met other IEP goals, a new evaluation is probably necessary.
The first step in the reevaluation process is a review of existing evaluation data about the child, known as the REED. If the ARD committee determines that no additional data are needed to determine whether the child continues to be a child with a disability, or the child’s educational needs, then the ARD must notify the parents and say why no new testing will be conducted as part of the reevaluation. Parents do have the right to respond and request an assessment to determine whether the child continues to be a child with a disability, and to determine the child’s educational needs.
The school is required to get parental consent for both initial evaluations and reevaluations. A district may ONLY reevaluate a student without parental consent if the parents fail to respond and the district can show that it has taken all reasonable measures to get consent. If the parent does not agree with the reevaluation, the district may only reevaluate if the district requests a due process hearing. If the parent refuses to consent to a reevaluation, the district is not required to request a due process hearing to override the parent’s refusal to consent.
A new evaluation is also required before a change of placement unless the student is graduating under regular academic standards or is aging out of services. For a student graduating under the IEP, the evaluation will be included as part of the Summary of Performance. All special education students graduating will be provided with a summary of academic achievement and functional performance. This summary will include recommendations to assist the student in meeting post-secondary goals, written recommendations from adult service agencies and the views of the parent and student.
If you believe the school’s evaluation is inaccurate or incomplete, and you cannot resolve the issue with the school, you can challenge the evaluation through the dispute resolution processes. If you challenge the evaluation, you will need some proof or evidence showing what is wrong with the school’s evaluation. For example, this could be a doctor’s or psychologist’s report or other independent evaluation and testimony.
The content of this blog post was excerpted from IDEA Manual, A Guide for Parents and Students About Special Education Services in Texas, 2016 Edition, a joint project of The Arc of Texas and Disability Rights Texas. You can download the IDEA manual at https://www.thearcoftexas.org/idea-manual/