ON WEDNESDAY, MAY 4, 2011, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES AND ASK THEM TO COSPONSOR THE IDEA FAIRNESS RESTORATION ACT (S.613 AND H.R. 1208). This bill will allow parents to recover expert witness fees when they prevail in due process hearings and court actions under the IDEA.
IDEA gives parents the right to an impartial due process hearing, but parents must be able to afford expert witnesses to testify at those hearings. Expert witnesses can include psychologists; physicians; speech, occupational, physical, and other therapists; educational experts; positive behavioral support experts, and others. Without expert witnesses, most parents cannot prevail. Sometimes, school districts sue parents and parents must have expert witnesses to adequately defend themselves.
The IDEA Fairness Restoration Act will restore the right to recover expert witness fees for parents and students with disabilities. Congress intended that parents have this right when it amended the IDEA in 1986. But in 2006, the Supreme Court acted contrary to this intent and held that parents could not recover expert witness fees in Arlington Central School District v. Murphy. Plaintiffs in other civil rights cases, like ADA cases, recover fees, and this bill would simply give parents the same right.
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Action Needed: Contact Your Representatives this May 4 for the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act