How and Why to Request an Independent Education Evaluation

Kathleen J. Giordano, Chair, Tourette Association Education Advisory Board

Requesting an Independent Education Evaluation

Students with TS can have numerous difficulties that cause them to be less than successful in a number of different areas of academic achievement. Therefore, it is important to request evaluations for any and all suspected disabilities in order to determine if supports need to be provided by the school.  (IDEA states: “Sec. 614(b)(3)(B)  The child is assessed in all areas related to the suspected disability, including, if appropriate, health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, communicative status, and motor abilities;”)

Learning challenges that are not recognized often lead to excessive difficulties and/or failure which increase stress for the student.   Stress generally makes symptoms worse which often results in academic and or behavioral failure.  That failure causes further increases in stress, and a situation develops that very often cannot be easily turned around.

If parents believe there are educational difficulties which have not been identified or appropriately assessed by the school evaluations, they can request an outside and independent evaluation.  Often this involves someone who specializes in recognizing educational difficulties due to neurological disorders.  According to the federal Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the school has two options.  The first option is to provide the funding for the evaluation.  The second is to take the parents to a hearing.

(Federal regulations are below that pertain to this).  § 300.103.
(b) Parent right to evaluation at public expense.

(1) A parent has the right to an independent educational evaluation at public expense if the parent disagrees with an evaluation obtained by the public agency (school district), subject to the conditions in paragraphs (b)(2) through (4) of this section.

(2) If a parent requests an independent educational evaluation at public expense, the public agency must, without unnecessary delay, either—
(i) File a due process complaint to request a hearing to show that its evaluation is appropriate; or
(ii) Ensure that an independent educational evaluation is provided at public expense, unless the agency demonstrates in a hearing pursuant to §§ 300.507 through 300.513 that the evaluation obtained by the parent did not meet agency criteria.

(3) If the public agency files a due process complaint notice to request a hearing and the final decision is that the agency’s evaluation is appropriate, the parent still has the right to an independent educational evaluation, but not at public expense.

(4) If a parent requests an independent educational evaluation, the public agency may ask for the parent’s reason why he or she objects to the public evaluation. However, the public agency may not require the parent to provide an explanation and may not unreasonably delay either providing the independent educational evaluation at public expense or filing a due process complaint to request a due process hearing to defend the public evaluation.

(5) A parent is entitled to only one independent educational evaluation at public expense each time the public agency conducts an evaluation with which the parent disagrees.

It is important to note that the school is obligated ONLY to take the outside and independent evaluations into consideration, and does not mean that it is obligated to follow the evaluator’s recommendations.

If a parent is interested in requesting an independent evaluation, it is best to write a letter to the school explaining that TS is an extremely complex disorder and that it is often necessary to have an evaluator involved who is familiar with either the specific suspected disorder or with educational difficulties due to neurological disorders.  It is for this reason that you respectfully disagree with the schools evaluations and request an outside and independent evaluation at public expense.  Also of note, the new IDEA allows this to occur only once and when the school has conducted an evaluation which could be during the tri-annual evaluation.  It is NOT a request that parents should take lightly.

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