A Capehart Scatchard Blog

District Court Denies Parents’ Request for IEE

Parents of special education students have the right to request an independent educational evaluation (“IEE”) at the expense of the school district if they disagree with any assessment conducted as part of an initial evaluation or a reevaluation conducted by the school district. However, that right is not unfettered. On January 31, 2019, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey in S.S. and M.S., o/b/o H.S. v. Hillsborough Township Public School District overturned an Administrative Law Judge’s decision and determined (1) parents are only entitled to an IEE at the district’s expense when they disagree with an evaluation or reevaluation that has been completed and (2) parents are not entitled to an IEE if they refuse consent to an evaluation or reevaluation by the district.

In 2011, the Hillsborough Township Public School District (“District”) conducted various assessments of the student as part of a triennial reevaluation, which included social, educational, and psychological evaluations. In 2014, the District determined that no additional information was required to determine the student’s eligibility for special education benefits. The parents did not request additional assessments until June 2017, approximately two and a half years after the last reevaluation planning meeting.

In June 2017, the District and parents participated in a reevaluation planning meeting, at which time the District agreed to conduct various assessments, including psychological and educational evaluations, of the student. The parents provided written consent allowing the District to complete the assessments. The next day, the parents requested an IEE and neuropsychological assessment at the District’s expense. Ultimately, the parties met to discuss the parents’ request, at which time the District did not agree to conduct the neuropsychological assessment and the parents revoked their consent for the psychological and educational assessments that they had previously agreed the District could conduct.

The parents filed suit challenging the district’s denial of the IEE request. In ruling in favor of the District, the District Court found that at the time the parents made the request for an IEE, the District had not completed an evaluation of the student. Therefore, there was no evaluation or reevaluation with which the parents could disagree. Accordingly, the parents were not entitled to an IEE at the District’s expense. Moreover, the District Court ruled that the parents had no right to a publicly funded IEE when they revoked and refused consent for the District to complete an evaluation of the student, thereby making it impossible for the District to assess the student.

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Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev

About the Author

About the Author:

Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. concentrates her practice on the representation of boards of education and charter schools in all areas of school law including: labor and employment, special education, Section 504, student discipline, FERPA, Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act, student residency, civil rights, tenure, OPRA, and OPMA. In connection with these representations, she is experienced in handling matters before State and Federal courts, including the Office of Administrative Law. Ms. Dev is an experienced special education litigator and defends school districts in due process hearings from inception through trial. In addition, she has handled matters before governmental agencies, including the U.S. Office for Civil Rights and New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. Ms. Dev routinely conducts training and seminars, drafts policies and manuals, and provides strategic advice to school administrators regarding school law issues. Ms. Dev was recently recognized as one of South Jersey’s Awesome Attorneys as published by South Jersey Magazine. She is licensed to practice law in New Jersey, the District Court for the District of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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