The Wrightslaw Way

to Special Education Law and Advocacy

The Wrightslaw Way random header image

Sign-On and Support the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act (HR 2740)!

06/29/09
by Wrightslaw

In 2006, the Supreme Court decided that parents could not be reimbursed for expert witness fees in Arlington Central School District v. Murphy. The Murphy decision has made the playing field unlevel and unjust for parents who are forced to pursue due process. H.R. 2740 will override this decision.

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.

Please sign 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.

Individual petition: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=Ib9OdiMVf9ZE2rcPz5F2DA_3d_3d.

Link for organizations and groups.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=ZqaHLUdhQIhctyl6F_2bSZEA_3d_3d

Why should this bill should be passed?…

We are seeking both individuals and organizations to sign in support.

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 or organizations of people. To sign your organization or group on, click here: Link for organizations and groups.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=ZqaHLUdhQIhctyl6F_2bSZEA_3d_3d

Even if you sign the organizational petition on behalf of an organization or group, you should sign the Individual petition on your own behalf.

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 protect 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.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=Ib9OdiMVf9ZE2rcPz5F2DA_3d_3d

Just click and fill in the information and you’ll be signed on.

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 two days of cross-examination by the school district. The parent prevailed and the child received the reading instruction he 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 is on COPAA’s website here. http://www.copaa.net/publicpolicy/HR2740bill.php

You can find the full bill and follow the status at http://thomas.loc.gov/. In the box that says Search Bill Summary and Status, type IDEA Fairness and press search. This will take you to H.R. 2740.

Print Friendly

Tags:   · · · 59 Comments

Leave A Comment

59 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Diane 07/04/09 at 8:09 pm

    As a parent that has been through Due Process, we understand the burden of the current law. Please pass HR 2740. Parents have such a extreme disadvantage with the current law. Our kids need us to be able to advocate for their needs.

  • 2 Rob 07/04/09 at 9:34 am

    Yes, please pass HR 2740 bill the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act. I support this bill.

  • 3 Pat 07/03/09 at 9:14 pm

    I removed my children from the SChool District because of harassment and bullying that I feel started as a direct result of trying to obtain a fair due process hearing for my son who was placed in learning support to even with me for saying no more abuse. We exited a due process hearing because I knew it would be to costly and the harassment in this school district had already extended to the local community rurally. My sons and I were in danger and still are for our efforts to obtain a fair hearing and appropriate programming for my son who is now an honor student at a charter school. One of the hearing officers was a colleague of the husband of the elementary school principal. Her husband worked at same university as the hearing officer. She dismissed my son’s case when asked to leave the case.

  • 4 Nancy 07/03/09 at 10:13 am

    I have been forced to file 2 due process suits and a civil rights violation. I have been forced to deal with the lies and illegal actions by the school personnel and their lawyers. By luck and preservation my children came out basically ahead.The Human rights bureau severely mishandled the HRV case and almost cost MY CHILD the case. I have found no lawyer in Montana that will help. I was forced to hire my own neuropyschologist who stood behind my 14 years of documentation. I have asked politicians to provide legal help for children. Accused criminals and suspected terriosts are assured legal representation yet our children, the future of our country, have no rights in the legal system. Schools can do as they please.No one cares for my children but me.

  • 5 Melissa 07/02/09 at 7:51 pm

    I have a 4 year old son with developmental delays and apraxia. I support this bill.

  • 6 Kathleen 07/02/09 at 6:23 pm

    Please pass these bills. I have an adopted daughter with special needs and it is very difficult for parents

  • 7 Sharon 07/02/09 at 5:38 pm

    While the district has resources with which to pay their expert witnesses, I have often wondered how “expert” they really are. I have read hundreds of reports that have been generated by their “experts” and most of them are well off the mark. If the expert is being paid by the school system, aren’t their opinions going to be slanted in favor of the district? True impartial opinions are hard to come by. Might it not be possible for the court to designate an expert to evaluate the child? Court designated experts would not be paid for by either side and therefore would provide a truly objective picture of the child. The court could then designate that the losing side pay for the expert. I could see this idea raising some eyebrows, but maybe it is the only way to go.
    Sharon

  • 8 D Grinolds 07/02/09 at 4:46 pm

    Please Support the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act (HR 2740)!
    Thanks.

  • 9 Neiani 07/02/09 at 3:58 pm

    Please support H.R.2740, The IDEA Fairness Restoration Act for Parental Rights.

  • 10 Rob & Kay 07/02/09 at 12:49 pm

    We need fairness for parents of special needs children. Allowing school districts to hire attorneys should be thoroughly investigated and personally, we feel should not be allowed. We feel all school districts should divulge how much is spent for legal fees and the reasons. We think tax payers would be outraged to know how much is spent to try and brow beat parents that are just trying to protect their children.

  • 11 Sherry 07/02/09 at 10:28 am

    As a people of an industrialized nation, we must do everything possible to help students with special needs become productive citizens. If a family cannot afford to pay fees they will not bring cases to court.
    We as a nation are not tapping into all of our human resources when we limit the contribution students with special needs can make to our society.
    Please vote for this bill, H.R. 2740, to enable families to bring to court issues that need to be addressed in the courts to give their students equal opportunities. Isn’t this part of civil rights?
    Thank you

  • 12 Jean 07/02/09 at 10:16 am

    Criminals have the option of legal representation in court. WE need the same opportunity to enforce the laws that have been put in place, however, though we are paying for the school’s attorney; they are there to represent the schools. Often attorneys intimidate and display their knowledge and powerr, and parents withdraw a complaint because they cannot fight the system and their child does not received FAPE> all then translates into a deepened lack of trust.

    Jean

  • 13 Bryn 07/02/09 at 9:21 am

    I support this Act.

  • 14 David1 07/01/09 at 8:50 pm

    I hope that everyone who has replied has already logged in and filled out the survey.

    This bill is a baby step towards Justice for our kids.

    No one is shocked to hear that a school district is falsifying records and violaintg procedural safeguards in the IDEA.

    Children in special education graduating with a high school diploma have become the exception to the rule.

    The only thing that is guaranteed in special education is that the school’s attorney will be paid. Educationa services are quite optional..

  • 15 Kinkini 07/01/09 at 8:18 pm

    The Murphy decision is unfair and a crushing burden on parents who are forced to pursue due process. Parents with limited resources bear a greater financial burden.Your support of H.R. 2740 will help reduce disparity, and allow parents who are not wealthy to also be able to advocate for their children’s needs. On behalf of children with special needs nationwide, I urge you to do the right thing by supporting H.R. 2740.

  • 16 Dawn 07/01/09 at 7:27 pm

    I have a 10 year old with Autism. We had to sue our district for an appropriate program. They had all the money and fancy attorneys on their side, paid for with MY taxes.When all was said and done we had no choice but to file for bankruptsy. 6 years later we are still broke and will probably never financially recover. Yes, please pass HR 2740 bill the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act. I too support this bill.

  • 17 Dennis 07/01/09 at 6:03 pm

    Please Support the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act (HR 2740)!
    Thanks

  • 18 patricia 07/01/09 at 2:21 pm

    Earl Warren had a quote about how there will not be justice in this country until people are entitled to legal representation in civil suits. It is so true.

  • 19 cathy 07/01/09 at 12:49 pm

    Fix the problem with a catch so the problem is worse. Everything Bush and the republicans did was superficial or opposite.

  • 20 Terri 07/01/09 at 11:01 am

    I support the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act. I have an 8 year old girl who has Autism and its very hard to get services available for her. The public school systems don’t provide the services for children with special needs, so the parents are left with getting services to their children. We as a nation need to put our priorities in order and take care of our children.

  • 21 Diane 07/01/09 at 8:58 am

    Please pass this bill, it seems unfair when you have a parent who cannot afford an attorney and need to pursue due process against the school district who come with an enitre team of professionals. This is not the fair, it seems unconstitutional. If the parents prevail they should be awared their attorney fees to be reimbused. We are parents advovating for our children. Advocating for appropriate services and placements in order for them to be sucessful.

  • 22 Tricia 07/01/09 at 8:35 am

    I support the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act. HB 2740

  • 23 Sarah 07/01/09 at 6:53 am

    There should not be two levels of parents who want to fight for their kids right to IEEs, or need expert witnesses to support and advocate for them. Money should not be the only thing that talks, when it comes to getting our children the education they deserve!

  • 24 ALEXIS 07/01/09 at 6:47 am

    I HAVE A CHILD THAT HAS AUTISM AND EPILEPSY. I LIVE IN ONE OF THE WORST SCHOOL DISTRICTS EVER. NOT PASSING THIS BILL IS LIKE TELLING THE PARENTS THAT THEIR CHILD DOES NOT MATTER AND THEY SHOULD JUST GET OVER IT. HOW DO WE HAVE MONEY TO REPAIR BRIDGES AND PUT NEW BUILDINGS BUT WHEN IT COMES TO OUR CHILDREN WE ARE BROKE.

  • 25 rosario 07/01/09 at 12:45 am

    i support this act because i have a down’s syndrome boy who has been deprived of adequate services under the system’s excuse of lack of funding while thousands of dollars are spent in non essential activities such as papers to promote or advertise people in the system and not real work or reading programs that don’t teach any kid to read and go on the system without really being able to do so even when they are not special ed students

  • 26 ANGELIA 06/30/09 at 10:24 pm

    Please help families with special needs children. Not only for the parents but FOR THE CHILDREN. As a mother of a child with Fragile X and a concerned citizen of the United States, I pray that Congress will search their hearts and minds and know just how important this is to children/families with special needs. We as he United States need to do whats right and that is support the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act (H.R. 2740) I truly pray for the support of this bill. Give these children and their families the support they need to give special needs children every opportunity out there for them. Its NOT about the “MONEY,” its about doing what is RIGHT to help these families pay for services/education their child/children so desperately need. I ask to do it for the children and as a mother, for my son Ty.
    PLEASE PASS THIS BILL.

  • 27 Karen 06/30/09 at 10:19 pm

    I am in support of the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act.

  • 28 Eveyn 06/30/09 at 10:15 pm

    School districts need to be properly monitored so that the federal money that is suppose to be available goes to the intended source and not arbitraily used by the districts?
    Please Pass HR 2740 and restore FAIRNESS. I support this bill. Passing this bill would give districts the incentive to provide appropriate services, and that there will be accountability. Unfortunately, I’ve learned through personal experience that school districts will do as little as they can get away with for special needs students.

  • 29 Josephine 06/30/09 at 9:14 pm

    I am the mother of an 11 year old. He has had an IEP since first grade and has had tutors every summer. However, he is still reading on a second grade reading level. He was diagnosed in the 1% severe dyslexia and written expression. There is also speech issues. In which he has had private speech classes and speech twice a week @ school. Pulling him out of his reading class for speech. This stopped once we learned about it. School District was real good keeping that from us. I started the Special Education parent support group in this district and I was just voted in as Chair person for the County Task Force. I am currently entering into a Due Process hearing with our district and I’m several thousands of dollars into it w/ an atty & advocate. And all I asked for was the Wilson Reading program for my son and was denied.

  • 30 Kathy 06/30/09 at 7:48 pm

    Please allow parents to fight for their children’s rights by passing the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act. The school districts really need to be held more accountable for their actions.

  • 31 Stephanie 06/30/09 at 7:14 pm

    I support the HR274o bill!!!!! Parents need help with situations like these!!!!

  • 32 Marina 06/30/09 at 6:23 pm

    Please support the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act. It will help bring fairness to parents who are trying to advocate for their children in the Special Education system. Thank you.

  • 33 Claudette 06/30/09 at 4:43 pm

    The public is paying for the school’s lawyer fees; therefore, parents should be reimbursed out of public funds, too.

  • 34 mark 06/30/09 at 4:05 pm

    Please support this effort.

  • 35 Elena 06/30/09 at 3:05 pm

    I have taught Special Education students for over 20 years. I have also practiced law, in NYS, for 14 years, during which time I prosecuted and represented juvenile delinquents, abused and neglected children and runaways. With all of that experience, I have yet to know of a school district that has an office dedicated to Parent Advocacy, for navigating PL 94-142 and all of its progeny. Until such an office is funded, parents only receive lip service, not due process.

  • 36 Lynn 06/30/09 at 2:11 pm

    Being a parent of disabled child is hard enough with out the stresses that go with fighting a system that is supposed to be helping you. It is even more racially disparate when only those with financial resources can access the services, because they can afford the evaluations. Working with families in poverty, I often see kids who were never properly diagnosed in school, and the child is failing and dropping out of school. Our goal should be the same, to assure that all children are able to graduate.

  • 37 michele 06/30/09 at 1:36 pm

    As a mother of a deaf child I feel that this bill needs to be passed

  • 38 Ted 06/30/09 at 1:23 pm

    Yes, the solution is to get the tax payer to pay for every law suit. While we’re at it. Why not dismantle every small school district in the country (the ones who can’t afford a law suit) and only leave the big districts. That will serve us well. There are strong protections in place. If you have an issue, take it to your superintenden, school board, office of public instruction, resresentative, department of ed. If you get nowhere you probably don’t have a case. If you do, then sue and pay for it. Just like everyone else.

  • 39 Wendylin 06/30/09 at 12:57 pm

    Lets help our children by advocating for them. We need a FAPE that will work for us, not against us!

  • 40 Michelle 06/30/09 at 12:08 pm

    I fully support this Bill ! I am the mother of an 11 yr old boy with down syndrome. We are in the middle of fighting our town in Massachusetts for the least restrictive environment and inclussion for our son. though we are still in the beginning of our fight I can see it heading toward experts already. It should not be this difficult to have towns do what is the law.

  • 41 Wrightslaw 06/30/09 at 12:06 pm

    Remember! If you want to sign the petition in support of the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act, please click on the link in the article. You can sign as an individual or as an organization.

    Thank you for your support and your comments on the blog. But if you want to sign the petition for Congress, please read the entire article and click on the links.

    Link for organizations and groups.
    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=ZqaHLUdhQIhctyl6F_2bSZEA_3d_3d

    The link to sign COPAA’s individual petition.
    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=Ib9OdiMVf9ZE2rcPz5F2DA_3d_3d

  • 42 Mary 06/30/09 at 11:45 am

    I support the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act (H.R. 2740). Otherwise, parents are paying for their own experts and through their taxes are paying the schools’ experts. That is not right!
    Stand up for the rights of special needs children!

  • 43 margaret 06/30/09 at 11:40 am

    support these kids and their families. I am raising a developmentally disabled teen who I have had since infancy. I am single(husband split) and don’t get appropriate curriculum, they said she reached a plateau so she doesn’t even have OT or any therapies unless I bus her 3 cities away. I don’t drive and she is very vulnerable. She is teachable and wants friends.

  • 44 Stefanie 06/30/09 at 10:56 am

    Without funding, so many of us will not be able to move our children in a forward direction without appropriate programs. Please continue to help us help our children.

  • 45 danielle 06/30/09 at 10:54 am

    I am the parent of a special needs child who has been through the process. I support this bill

  • 46 Kathleen 06/30/09 at 10:42 am

    I am the mother of two adopted children. My daughter was diagnosed with ADD 5 years ago, she is now 15. My son was diagnosed with ADHD and ATTACHMENT DISORDER at the age of 8, he is now 14 . WE pay for both of them to see a Developmental and Behavioral Pediatric. We also take our son to counseling.WE have paid for Special Education Consultants and psychologist. My son has a 504 which is really not much help.We worked hard to get our son passing grades,after all this hard work his principal said he probably not be allowed back to the middle school he attended last year.My son made his first friend at this school,he has never had a friend. He can’t return to the school in our district because of severe bullying.Where does this leave us? His psychologist made some suggestions for my sons education , none were used.

  • 47 Valerie 06/30/09 at 10:39 am

    Passing this bill would give districts the incentive to provide appropriate services, and that there will be accountability. Without such a bill, districts will always have an unfair advantage.

  • 48 David 06/30/09 at 10:13 am

    I support the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act. Please make sure that District’s reimburse experts costs to prevailing parents in special education matters. It is the only way that many parents can ensure that their children receive appropriate educations.

  • 49 Carol 06/30/09 at 10:03 am

    I wish I had help years ago when I had to sue the school district for not following my sons 504 Plan. If we don’t stand up for our children, who will?

  • 50 Peggy 06/30/09 at 9:56 am

    The playing field needs to be equal. Our tax dollars should not be used to support school districts’ legal fees. We as parents should only have to pay at the same cost level as what an individual person in a school districts pays out of their pocket – nothing, it’s free for them. Children are being unfairly represented!
    Why are school districts not monitored properly so that the federal money that is “suppose” to be available actually is appropriated to the intened source and not to the source “arbitrarily chosen” by the leaders in the districts?
    Please Pass HR 2740 and restore FAIRNESS. I support this bill.

  • 51 Laurie 06/30/09 at 9:50 am

    I agree completely with what was said by “5Sheryl” previously, “The playing field needs to be equal. My tax dollars should not be used to support school districts’ legal fees. Parents should be allowed to pay at the same cost level as what an individual person in a school districts pays out of their pocket – nothing, it’s free for them. Children are being unfairly represented!”

  • 52 Barbara 06/30/09 at 9:46 am

    Please Support the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act (HR 2740)!
    Thanks.

  • 53 beryl 06/30/09 at 9:11 am

    Yes I support this bill for so many of us here in North Texas looses out in special education laws.especially in high school.

  • 54 Luanne 06/30/09 at 8:35 am

    This cost applies to me as single Mother of three, two with special needs. My oldest son has IEP for emotional needs, recently diagnosed with complex partial seizures as cause for his depression and suicide attempts, I fought with the school over placement and assistance for 4 yrs. and kept hitting a brick wall. My middle son is 16 and M.R. and no transitional services in place despite his IEP since beginning school as a child for mental/cognitive delays. Last IEP they still could not offer any transitional assistance and he is not college material.

  • 55 Sheryl 06/30/09 at 8:26 am

    The playing field needs to be equal. My tax dollars should not be used to support school districts’ legal fees. Parents should be allowed to pay at the same cost level as what an individual person in a school districts pays out of their pocket – nothing, it’s free for them. Children are being unfairly represented!

  • 56 Michaelene 06/30/09 at 8:19 am

    The Arlington Case has had the unintended consequence of turning the IDEA into the WIDEA – Wealthy Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Effective advocacy by parents is the only assurance of an appropriate education in the least restrictive environment that Congress and the Rowley Court intended to provide for children with disabilities. Arlington prices all but the wealthiest of parents out of the effective advocacy ((due process) market, leaving districts free to provide whatever they choose – whether appropriate or not; whether in the least restrictive environment or not. In the interests of justice and equity, the playing field needs to be leveled by permitting prevailing parents to recover their expert fees.

  • 57 Patty 06/30/09 at 8:12 am

    Parents need a break (financial and emotional). Until Congress, OSEP, DOE, OCR, et. al. get their act together and show some hutspa regarding REAL monitoring and ENFORCE-MENT of these laws, its a loosing battle for parent advocates and especially the children with special needs! After all these years why are only nine states in compliance? Why after spending billions of dollars has there NEVER been a FORENSIC AUDIT of the Federal money passed through to school districts. I’d guess forensic audits would show that much of the money intended for use of students is instead being spent on Due (DUPED) Process and litigation. Parents are put in position of financially supporting both sides of the litigation. Paying their own attorney/experts as Petitioners, and through their tax dollars, paying for the Defense as well. This MUST be stopped.

  • 58 Maria 06/30/09 at 7:27 am

    Yes, please pass HR 2740 bill the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act. I support this bill.

  • 59 Victoria 06/30/09 at 6:19 am

    I am an unemployed single school teacher heading into due process with a County School District in Florida over a Least Restrictive Environment issue. I have 4 meetings with the district including the hearing. I can not afford any representation They have a lawyer on staff and all of the specialists that are available in their staff pool. This is not the way the American legal system is supposed to work. The odds are completely out of balance. This kind of open discrimination is criminal.