CASE NO. 2022110700
LONG BEACH UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT v. Student
Counsel for Student: Jane N. DuBovy
Counsel for District: Meagan M. Kinsey and Alicia A. Arman
Representative for District: Diana Zepeda-McZeal, Ed.D
ALJ: Paul H. Kamoroff
Date of Decision: May 03, 2023
Significant areas of law: Independent evaluation on public expense
- Is Student entitled to a psychoeducational and transition independent educational evaluations at public expense, when Parents’ selected evaluator’s fee exceeds District’s cost criteria?
FACTS OF THE CASE:
- Student was 17 years old and eligible for special education under other health impairment due to an attention disorder.
- District conducted student’s psychoeducational and transition independent educational evaluations, to which parents disagreed, communicated their disagreement to District through their attorney and requested for independent evaluations at public expense by identifying an independent evaluator. However, District denied parent’s request as the evaluator’s fee exceeded District’s cost cap.
- District agreed to fund an independent evaluation by any qualified assessor that met its cost cap, and requested that Parents provide information regarding any unique circumstance that would warrant an exception to the cost cap. District also sent parent a list of additional evaluators approved by the District, communicated District’s policy and cost cap through four proper written notices.
- Student is not entitled to a psychoeducational and transition independent educational evaluations at public expense when Parents’ selected evaluator’s fee exceeds District’s cost criteria.
- The District, through appropriate prior written notices informed Parents of District’s guidelines and cost cap for evaluations, informed Parents of District’s agreement to fund an independent evaluation by any qualified assessor who met its cost criteria, provided a non-exhaustive list of approved evaluators, explained that if Parents selected an evaluator who did not meet District’s cost criteria, Parents would have to show a unique circumstance that warranted an exception to its cost criteria and provided contact information, including a specific person and direct telephone number, that Parents could use if they desired additional information regarding the independent evaluation. Hence, District met its obligation to provide Parents information about where an independent evaluation may be obtained, and District’s criteria and cost cap for independent evaluations.
- Parent failed to provide information showing Student had a unique need or their chosen evaluator had a unique qualification that warranted an exception to District’s cost cap. Parents were unwilling to select another evaluator and District was unwilling to provide an exception to its cost cap without information warranting an exception.
- District succeeded to prove through witnesses and documents that its cost cap is reasonable, determined by contacting various qualified assessors throughout southern California and inquiring what those assessors charged for different types of evaluations and reviewed and updated its criteria and cap for independent educational evaluations every one to two years. Hence, District’s process for establishing cost criteria for independent evaluations was lawful.
- District submitted service contracts with 12 qualified assessors who had contracted with District to conduct independent evaluations at or below their cost cap.
- District persuasively testified that Student did not demonstrate an area of need that justified an exception to District’s cost cap for an independent evaluation.
- Student’s witnesses failed to prove their contention that District’s cost cap was below industry standards and would prevent Parents from obtaining an independent evaluation by a qualified assessor. They further failed to impeach the experience or qualification of any evaluator who met District’s cost cap and to submit any persuasive evidence to show that an exception to District’s cost cap was warranted.
- District’s cost criteria for independent evaluations is reasonable such that District is not required to fund the independent evaluations, as requested by Parents.one.