The Schoolyard Lawyer: Parents’ Right to an Independent Evaluation


Every time a school district conducts an uation of a child, the parents have the right to an independent uation. An independent uation is an uation done on the child outside of the school district. It gives the parents the opportunity to research credible doctors and uators who can conduct an uation and offer an opinion “independent” of the school district.

When parents disagree with the results of the school’s uation, the parents may be entitled to an independent uation at the school district’s expense. Although school districts may be obligated to pay for the independent uation, every state, including Massachusetts, puts a cap on the amount the school district must pay for the uation. Because uations are expensive and the rates are normally more than that established by the state, the parents usually pay the difference.

If the school district continues to support their own uation and does not see the need for an independent uation, the school district can challenge it by going to hearing. This, however, will cost more than paying for the uation, so often school districts go through with the independent uation.

Parents are not obligated to inform the school that they want an independent uation, nor are they even obligated to say why they disagree with the uation done by the school. Instead, if a parent disagrees with their child’s uation, they can get an independent uation and seek payment from the school district after the uation is complete. However, school districts are only obligated to pay for the portions of the independent uation that they tested in their own uations. This is known as the “mirror image rule.” Therefore, if parents want testing done outside of what the school district did, they cannot seek reimbursement for that portion of the uation.

If you are concerned about your child’s uation and want to learn more about your right to an independent uation, please let us know.