Education Law in Virginia: The IEE (Independent Education Evaluation), a second opinion to an IEP

What do you do when you believe your child has a disability that qualifies them for special education services, but the schools evaluator disagrees? Do you give up and accept their evaluation as the final word in the matter or do you press it further

The law anticipated that parents may disagree with the school regarding a disability and it has built into it a right for the child to obtain an independent educational evaluation (IEE). This right is one which is unfortunately not as well understood, and often under-utilized.

An IEE can be the extra information that a parent needs to change the mind of the school regarding the student and their IEP. The school cannot disregard the independent evaluation either. The law is clear, the school must consider the evaluation obtained by a parent when developing an IEP.

Who can perform an IEE? It is any qualified examiner who is not employed by the school. The evaluation is not limited to your child’s academic or cognitive abilities. The evaluation could connect to anything which impacts your child’s education. This could range from sensory needs to therapeutic services and everything in-between.

The only limit as to who the evaluator can be is that they must meet the same criteria that the school uses for its evaluations. If you have your heart set on a specific evaluator then that evaluator can provide your child and IEE. The school may provide you a list of “Approved Independent Educational Evaluators”, but that list is not the only evaluators you can use. The school cannot legally impose requirements that could deny you, the parent, the right to the IEE, and an exhaustive list would be such requirement that they cannot impose.

The big question which many parents have is how they can afford to get an independent educational evaluation. Evaluators can be expensive, and not all families have enough disposable funds to easily be able to afford an evaluator. Thankfully any parent should be able to afford an IEE, depending on why they are requesting one. If you request an IEE because you disagree with the school’s evaluation, then there is one thing you absolutely need to do. That is to make a request to the school that the IEE be provided at public expense. If those two boxes are checked: disagree with schools evaluation; and request IEE at public expense then the school must pay for the IEE.

You could also request an IEE if the school flat out refuses to evaluate your child, and also request that to be at the schools expense.

The school could attempt to avoid paying for an IEE by requesting a due process hearing, but this course of action is uncommon with regards to an IEE, as the school has the burden of proof if they request a hearing due to denial of an IEE. The burden of proof at a due process hearing creates a rather high bar to meet.

If you are having any difficulties with the IEP team and the school with regards to your child’s special education needs, then an IEE is vital to be able to show the school why your child needs the services that you are stating they need.

If you have questions about special education or advocating for your child’s educational needs, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at or 804-423-1382 to set up an initial consultation.