Many people ask me about independent assessments. Mostly, the questions are:
1. Do I need an independent assessment?
2. Are independent assessments better than school district assessments?
3. Can I get the school district to pay for an independent assessment?
4. Is the school district bound by what the independent assessment says?
The most basic answer is that you are entitled to an independent assessment at school district expense in the event that a school district has done an assessment that does not meet legal standards. This includes any and all special education assessments, including comprehensive assessments, speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc.
In my experience, while independent assessments are generally more extensive than school district assessments, they are not always "better." You must make sure that, prior to getting an independent assessment, you get a copy of the assessor's resume or CV and see their qualifications. Make sure that it will be them personally doing the testing, or, if not, who will be and how they are involved. Also, ask if they have redacted reports that you can look at as examples. The biggest issue that I have had with independent assessments is assessment reports that do not contain recommendations, or contain recommendations so broad they are useless in terms of aiding at an IEP meeting.
School districts must take into account an IEE at an IEP meeting, but are not bound by what the independent assessment says. As such, if you anticipate litigation, make sure the assessor you choose has experience testifying and is willing to do so on your behalf.
The Economou Law Group has extensive experience reviewing special education assessments, including IEEs, and also has direct relationships with many IEE providers in all areas. Call today at (626) 765-9607 if you think your child needs an IEE.