Spring 2015

Independent Educational Evaluation

The issue in this case is whether a school district can deny reimbursement to a parent under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) that does not meet required criteria.  Parents are seeking reimbursement from the Orleans Parish School District related to the initiation and completion of an IEE of their son who is a child identified with autism under IDEA.  The parents hired a psychologist to conduct the IEE and the school district informed the parents that the IEE must follow the criteria set forth in Louisiana Bulletin 1508, Pupil Appraisal Handbook, (Texas districts use the same criteria outlined in the Louisiana Bulletin 1508, based on federal guidance.)  After receiving the completed IEE, the school district reviewed the evaluation against the criteria in Bulletin 1508 and determined that the evaluation was not in compliance with applicable criteria.  After receiving a request for reimbursement for the cost of the IEE, the district notified the parents that the IEE failed to meet required criteria and it denied reimbursement.

The parents requested a due process hearing to contest the district’s denial of reimbursement.  The administrative law judge found that reimbursement was not a remedy available to the parents under the IDEA because the evaluation did not follow the criteria in Bulletin 1508.

The parents then filed a complaint in federal district court.  The district court granted the school district’s motion for summary judgment, and the parents appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

LAF has agreed to join the National School Boards Association in filing an amicus curiae brief with the Fifth Circuit in support of the school district.