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RESOLVING DIFFERENCES OF OPINION, DISAGREEMENTS, AND DISPUTES

Parent Disagreement with an Evaluation: Request for an Independent Educational Evaluation

A parent(s) has a right to an independent educational evaluation (IEE) at public expense if the parent(s) disagrees with an AEA evaluation (i.e., an evaluation carried out or obtained by the AEA). An IEE is an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the AEA or LEA responsible for the education of the learner in question. The criteria under which the IEE is obtained, including the location of the evaluation and the qualifications of the examiner, must be the same as the criteria which the AEA uses when it initiates an evaluation.

Upon request, the AEA will provide parent(s) with information about where an independent educational evaluation may be obtained. An AEA may ask the parents’ reason why they object to the public evaluation, however, parent(s) cannot be required to provide the explanation and the AEA may not unreasonably delay a decision regarding the request.

Procedures for Implementing the Independent Evaluation

The following recommended steps will help guide the AEA/LEA staff to complete the independent educational evaluation process.

  1. Confirm that a full and individual evaluation or reevaluation has been completed and that the parent(s) disagree with the evaluation conclusions or recommendations.
  2. Discuss the request with the AEA Special Education Director or designee.
  3. Work with the IEP team to complete and submit the Independent Educational Evaluation Request Form to the AEA Special Education Director (or designee) for approval and signature.
  4. Provide the IEP team and parent(s) with a copy of the completed form.
  5. If necessary, obtain parental consent for the release/exchange of information with outside agencies.
  6. Arrange for the evaluation to be completed. Typically, this might be done by the AEA Special Education Director (or designee) in consultation with the IEP team.
  7. Following the completion of the IEE:
    1. The IEP team will reconvene to review the results and to develop an IEP.
    2. The AEA will reimburse the parent(s) for their expenses associated with the evaluation (e.g. travel, meals, lodging, etc.) consistent with AEA policies and procedures related to reimbursements.
    3. The AEA will reimburse the agency or professional who conducted the independent educational evaluation following the receipt of the evaluation report to the AEA.

Additional information on the Independent Education Evaluations is available online on the Iowa Department of Education website - Independent Educational Evaluation FAQ (this document answers many common questions about independent educational evaluations for children under the IDEA).

Disputes: Right to a State Complaint and Due Process

If the parent(s) is in disagreement with the proposed or refused action(s) outlined in Prior Written Notice provided by the LEA or AEA, IDEA outlines three options they may seek to resolve their differences.  

The three options include:

  • A state complaint
  • Due process complaints
  • Due process hearings

Area Education Agency (AEA) Mediation

AEA mediation is a statewide mediation and conflict resolution process available through each of Iowa’s nine AEAs. Each AEA has AEA Mediation Coordinator(s) who have completed training to enhance their skills to address differences and resolve conflicts in a collaborative and timely manner.

An AEA Mediator may be involved: 

  • To resolve conflicts and concerns involving general education, Section 504, special education, Early ACCESS, or any school-related issue 
  • To act as a facilitator at an IEP meeting 
  • To explore the dispute resolution options, including AEA mediation, due to a conflict 
  • To facilitate a “resolution meeting” to resolve issues following a parent filing of a due process hearing notice to the district and AEA
  • To resolve conflicts between educators and parents, educators and educators, or any other employee hired by the district or AEA
  • To assist at any other type of meeting to serve as a facilitator when conflict may be anticipated

For additional information and resources on AEA mediation, visit the Iowa Department of Education website (dispute resolution section).

Dispute Resolution Resources

For more information on Dispute Resolution options, visit the Department of Education's website to view a Dispute Resolution Process Comparison Chart and the Dispute Resolution Summary, or access the Procedural Safeguards Manual for Parents.