On September 26, 2000, the Board of Education promulgated emergency regulations in several areas of special education in response to outside sections of the FY2001 Budget that required such changes. One of the areas now in regulation is the use of a sliding fee scale for parents requesting public funding of Independent Education Evaluations (IEEs). The new regulatory language may be found at 603 CMR 28.04(5)(c). The Section 28.00 regulations are available by request from the Department at 781-338-6203.
General: All IEEs that are publicly funded, in whole or in part, must meet state requirements using qualified evaluators who abide by the requirements detailed in 603 CMR 28.04(5)(a). The publicly funded IEE described in #1-9 of this section is an "equivalent" IEE, that is, equivalent to the types of assessments done by the school district.
Funding based on eligibility for free or reduced cost lunch: Any student eligible for free or reduced cost lunch is entitled to receive an equivalent IEE at public expense. No additional financial information is required.
Sliding fee program information: School districts must offer parents seeking public funding for IEEs information about the sliding fee program.
Provision of financial documentation: Participation in the sliding fee program other than for students who are eligible for free or reduced cost lunch requires the parents to provide financial documentation. Providing financial documentation to the school district is completely voluntary on the part of the parents. If, however, the parents do not agree to provide such documentation, participation in the sliding fee program will not be available to such students.
Federal Poverty Guidelines: Current Federal Poverty Guidelines are listed below. On or before February of each year, school districts must update the Federal Poverty Guideline figures that they are using. Federal Poverty Guidelines are updated each year, published in the Federal Register in their entirety, and may be found on the internet at Poverty Guidelines, Research, and Measurement webpage
400% of Federal Poverty Guidelines: Any student whose family income is 400% or less of the federal poverty guidelines is entitled to receive an equivalent IEE. Parents must provide financial documentation to show eligibility.
400–500% of Federal Poverty Guidelines: Any student whose family income is more than 400% and equal to or less than 500% of federal poverty guidelines is entitled to have the district pay for 75% of the costs of an equivalent IEE. Parents must provide financial documentation to show eligibility.
500–600% of Federal Poverty Guidelines: Any student whose family income is more than 500% and equal to or less than 600% of federal poverty guidelines is entitled to have the district pay for 50% of the costs of an equivalent IEE. . Parents must provide financial documentation to show eligibility.
Over 600% of Federal Poverty Guidelines: Any student whose family income is more than 600% of federal poverty guidelines is not eligible for public funding under the sliding fee program.
Other options: Students who are not income-eligible, whose parents do not wish to provide financial documentation, or who are requesting an evaluation in an area not assessed by the school district may still request public funding of an IEE. Upon such request, the school district can either agree to pay for the IEE or must proceed within five school days to the Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA) to show that the evaluation done by the school district is appropriate.
For family units with more than 8 members, add $4,060 for each additional member for the base amount.
Whenever a parent seeks public funding for an IEE, if the student is eligible for free or reduced cost lunch, the school district must inform the parent(s) of the right to an equivalent evaluation at full public expense. If no information is available on the status of the student in relation to the free or reduced cost lunch program, the school district must inform the parent(s) of the option to participate in the sliding fee program.
The school district must show the parent(s) the poverty guidelines and explain the requirement for public funding at each level and must describe financial documentation that could be used to demonstrate income eligibility. Appropriate documentation includes tax returns, pay stubs, or other reasonable documentation.
The school district must ensure that the parent(s) understands that providing documentation of family financial status is totally voluntary on the part of the family.
If the parent(s) elects to participate, the district must promptly evaluate provided documents and inform the parent(s) of their status in relation to the sliding fee program and, if appropriate, work with the parent(s) to arrange an IEE that meets state requirements. If the financial documentation indicates the parent(s) is eligible for the sliding fee program, the district must note in the student's record that financial documentation was received, reviewed, and found eligible; the level of eligibility; the date of the review; and the signature of the person who reviewed the documents. No copies should be made of the financial documents and the district should return the financial documents immediately to the parent(s).
If the parent(s) does not participate in the sliding fee program, or requests an evaluation in an area not assessed by the school district, the school district must inform the parent(s) promptly either
that either the district will pay for the requested evaluation; or
that the district believes it has done an appropriate evaluation.
If the district declines to pay for the requested evaluation, it must further inform the parent:;
that the district intends to proceed within the next five school days to the BSEA to show that the district evaluation is appropriate;
that if the BSEA agrees that the evaluation done by the district was appropriate, the district will not be obligated to publicly fund the IEE; and
that the parent will be offered the option to provide information to the BSEA and, regardless of whether or not the parent participates at the BSEA hearing, will be informed of the results of the district's appeal.
The Bureau of Special Education Appeals has indicated that the request for a hearing to show that a district evaluation is appropriate will be conducted in the same manner as any other hearing. However, both parties may agree to accept an advisory process conducted by a hearing officer in an expedited manner as long as both parties agree in advance to accept the final written decision of the hearing officer as binding.
We hope this guidance is helpful. If you have any questions or require additional information, please call Program Quality Assurance Services at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (781-338-3700) for assistance.
Last Updated: June 19, 2014
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906
Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370
Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.