Friday, December 19, 2014

IEEs - School Districts May Not Set Limits on Classroom Observations for IEEs

The IDEA allows school districts to set their own criteria for independent educational evaluations ("IEEs"), such as the timing of the evaluation and rules governing classroom observations. However, school districts may not apply criteria that is stricter to third parties (evaluators) who are conducting publicly funded IEEs than the criteria that the school districts have for their own evaluators. For instance, school district may not allow the IEE evaluator less time to observe a student in class or a proposed educational placement than the school district allows its own evaluators to observe the student in class or a proposed educational placement. For school districts and charter schools that have policies limiting the duration of the time independent evaluators' can observe students, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs ("OSEP") advises those school districts and charter schools to restrict their own evaluators as well. OSEP told a parent's attorney that a school district that limits the independent evaluators time observing the student, but not limiting the school's own evaluator's observation time, is contrary to the IDEA because such a limitation may restrict the scope of the IEE and prevent an independent evaluator from fulfilling his or her purpose. OSEP pointed out that if an IEE is publicly funded, then the criteria under which the evaluation is obtained must be the same as the criteria the school district or charter school applies to its own evaluations. See, the OSEP letter, Letter to Savit. Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch, PLLC