The following is a bulletin from the National Down Syndrome Congress calling for concerted public action on December 3, 2007 to push this bill into becoming law.
IDEA Fairness Restoration Act
Contact Your U.S. Representatives on Monday December 3, 2007!
From the National Down Syndrome Society and National Down Syndrome Congress
November 30, 2007
As we recently reported to you in an information bulletin, the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act (H.R. 4188) was introduced in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, November 13, 2007 by Congressman Chris Van Hollen and Congressman Pete Sessions that would allow prevailing (winning party) parents to recoup expert fees and related costs in proceedings under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Additional background information is provided below.
In order to get this bill moving through Congress the first step is to get as many co-sponsors from both parties as possible. On Monday December 3, 2007, NDSS and NDSC urge you to contact your Representative with the following message about the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act (H.R. 4188):
Please co-sponsor the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act (HR 4188). It will level the playing field for parents who must advocate for a free, appropriate education for their child.
If you wish to call your Representative, you can find out the name and phone number at http://www.ndss.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=174.
If you wish to send an email, go to: http://capwiz.com/ndss/issues/alert/?alertid=10597931. You will have a sample email available (that you can edit to meet your needs). The email will be sent to the correct Representative based on your home address.
Additional Background Information
In 1986 Congress included language in the IDEA Conference Report (an explanation that accompanies a new law that is not explicitly included in the legislation) that allowed attorney's fees to be awarded to parents or guardians, including "reasonable expenses and fees of expert witnesses and the reasonable costs of any test or evaluation which is found to be necessary for the preparation of the parent or guardian's case.''
The Supreme Court in Arlington Central School District v. Murphy (2006) held that courts could no longer award expert fees and other related costs since this intent wasn't explicit in the statute.
The IDEA Fairness Restoration Act mirrors the text of the Conference Report almost exactly to fulfill Congress's intent.
This bill will not cause a rush of litigation. Parents only initiate due process proceedings and litigation as a last resort. However, in order to even the playing field, this option must be one that parents are financially able to exercise.
Expert testimony and expensive evaluations are generally necessary in IDEA proceedings in order for parents to prove their case. Unless they can be reimbursed for expert fees and related costs, most parents will not financially be in a position to advocate for their children's educational rights should these proceedings become necessary.
This bill provides that parents can be reimbursed for expert fees and related costs only if they are prevailing parties.
If you have questions or comments about this action alert, contact Ricki Sabia at email@example.com or Susan Goodman at SusanG1961@aol.com.
If you or others you know would like to be added to the NDSS mailing list, send name(s) and email address to firstname.lastname@example.org
National Down Syndrome Society
666 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
Phone: (800) 221-4602; Fax: (212) 979-2873
Web site: http://www.ndss.org
NDSS National Policy Center
8650 Georgia Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: (800) 743-5657 Fax (301) 563-6896