Ask Congress to Help Level the Playing Field. Few parents can afford to pay for needed experts on their own, while School Districts can Use taxpayer dollars to fund experts. This is manifestly unfair. Please see instructions below to sign COPAA’s Organizational and Individual Petitions.
Dear COPAAns and others,
Please consider signing COPAA’s petition in support of the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act (H.R. 2740), a bill that would permit parents who prevail in due process and litigation to recover their expert witness fees. Few parents can afford the high cost of paying technical, medical, and other expert witnesses themselves; by contrast, school districts can use taxpayer dollar to pay for experts or use staff on their payroll. In 2006, the Supreme Court decided that parents could not be reimbursed for expert witness fees in Arlington Central School District v. Murphy; the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act would overturn that decision. The Murphy decision has made the playing field incredibly unlevel and unjust for parents who are forced to pursue due process.
ORGANIZATIONAL SIGN-ONS. We are seeking organizations and informal groups who would like to sign on in support of the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act. Last year, over 100 organizations signed on. Current signatories include COPAA, National Disability Rights Networks, Disability Rights, DREDF, National Down Syndrome Society, Autism Society of America, Autism National Committee, Our Children Left Behind, and many state and local organizations and parent support groups. Your organization does not have to be incorporated. We welcome sign-ons from disability groups; informal networks of attorneys and advocates and others; parent support groups; health, civil rights, and other related organizations or groups; nonprofit organizations, public interest law firms and organizations, associations, and any other supportive groups. To sign your organization or group on, click here: Experts-Org
** NOTE: This is the link for organizations and groups. There is a different link for individual persons below.
This link goes to the Sign-On letter so you can read it, and a very simple form to use to sign-on. The form allows us to download sign-ons in excel format and to sort them, and we’d really appreciate if you use it.
INDIVIDUALS: SIGN COPAA’s PETITION FOR INDIVIDUALS! If you are a parent, attorney, advocate, family member, neighbor, friend, colleague, other professional, please sign COPAA’s petition for individuals who support the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act (H.R. 2740). Let’s tell Congress that we support this bill and want it passed! More and more parents find that they cannot pursue their children’s rights because they cannot afford it. Please send this note to your friends, family, support groups, listservs, yahoo groups and others to ask them to sign the petition. There are 7.1 million children with disabilities and their rights are important. The link to SIGN COPAA’s INDIVIDUAL PETITION IS HERE: Indiv-Petition
The effects of not being able to afford expert fees can be pernicious. In one case, a mother was forced to go to due process to implement the Independent Educational Evaluation recommendations for her child with severe dyslexia and a written expression disorder. She had to borrow $1,400 to pay the evaluator to testify, and for 2 days of cross-examination by the school district. The hearing officer ordered the scientifically-based reading instruction the child desperately needed. Before the Supreme Court’s Murphy decision, the mother could recover her expert fees; after Murphy, she would not. In other cases, solo practitioners report that they could not take cases pro bono because they had no way to afford the expert. The IDEA Fairness Restoration Act would go far to cure these problems.
You can read more about this important issue on COPAA’s website at http://www.copaa.org/pdf/MurphyBrochure.pdf
Note that this brochure may refer to H.R. 4188; that was last year’s bill. This is being updated and the new bill number is H.R. 2740.
This information is also available in Spanish, http://www.copaa.org/pdf/MSSpanish.pdf
Lea aqui en Espanol: Murphy y los derechos de los padres para recuperar el costo de los expertos. Importante! es el nuevo número H.R. 2740: http://www.copaa.org/pdf/MSSpanish.pdf
A copy of the bill will be posted to COPAA’s website shortly. In the meantime, you can find the full bill at www.congress.gov, and in the box that says Search Bill Summary and Status, type IDEA Fairness and press search. This will take you to H.R. 2740.
For more information, or if you have questions, please feel free to email us at email@example.com.
AGAIN, PLEASE SHARE THIS INFORMATION BROADLY, you can re-post and forward as you wish.
Thanks very much,
Robert Berlow and Jess Butler
Co-Chairs, Government Relations
Council of Parent Attorneys & Advocates, Inc.
a national voice for special education rights and advocacy