In an unpublished decision, the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals in M.S., S.S., on behalf of H.S. v Hillsborough Twp Pub Sch Dist held a school district was not required to reimburse parents the cost of an independent educational evaluation (IEE) until the parents disagreed with the school district’s evaluation of the student.
The student was initially evaluated by the school district and found eligible for special education and related services. Six years later, the parents and the district agreed to conduct a reevaluation. Before the reevaluation could occur, the parents withdrew consent and demanded the school district pay for an IEE. The school district declined, explaining that the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) and its implementing regulations required the parents and the district to first disagree over the school’s evaluation of the student before public funds could be spent on an IEE. The parents went forward with an IEE and when the school district refused to reimburse them, filed suit.
The Third Circuit agreed with the school district, citing to the clear language of the IDEA. Because the parents did not disagree with the school district’s initial evaluation, and had withdrawn consent for the student’s first reevaluation, they were not entitled to reimbursement.