Clear Creek ISD v. Student, Dkt. No. 111-SE-1214 (Hearing Officer Ann Vevier Lockwood March 25, 2015).

Facts:  The student qualified for special education and related services as a student with an emotional disturbance.  The student’s Admission, Review & Dismissal Committee (ARD) referred the student for additional evaluations to provide updated information regarding student’s intellectual functioning, academic achievement, emotional and behavioral functioning, a functional behavior assessment and the need for related services.  All areas of suspected disability, including a possible learning disability, were assessed by the FIE. The school district completed an FIE and issued a report on September 20, 2014.  An Admission, Review & Dismissal Committee (ARD) convened in October 2014 to review and discuss the results of the FIE.

The FIE recommended a small, structured learning environment as an appropriate educational setting for the student. A set of recommendations to address the student’s academic needs arose from the academic testing including monitoring the student’s written expression and implementing specific accommodations related to written work and processing speed.  Programming recommendations were also included in the FIE to address the student’s challenging behaviors.  The parent requested an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at school district expense and continued to question the school district’s proposed placement. The school district filed its request for a due process hearing following the October ARD and the IEE request.

Holding:  A parent has a right to an IEE at school district expense if the parent disagrees with the school district’s evaluation subject to certain regulatory conditions.  In response to the request the school district must either request a due process hearing to show its evaluation is appropriate or ensure the IEE is provided. If the school district establishes its evaluation was appropriate the parent may still secure an IEE but not at school district expense.  In this case Student’s parents requested an IEE and the school district filed a request for hearing to determine whether its evaluation was appropriate.

The hearing officer determined that, although there were a few minor errors mis-stating some parental information, the errors were not substantial enough to affect the integrity of the FIE or its conclusions and recommendations. Parental questions and comments about the FIE, the sources of data, and how the FIE was put together were addressed at the ARD.  The school district’s Full Individual Educational Evaluation completed in September 2014 met all IDEA requirements and followed all IDEA procedures and was therefore appropriate within the meaning of the statute.  The student’s parents are not entitled to an IEE at school district expense.

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