Senator Looks To Ease Burden For Parents In IDEA Disputes
[Source: Disability Scoop]
A federal lawmaker says he wants to level the playing field for parents involved in special education disputes with their child’s school district.
U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is proposing new legislation that would ensure parents who successfully challenge a school district under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act can recoup costs for psychologists, behavior specialists, physicians and other experts they engage in order to bring their case.
Currently, families can challenge schools if they do not believe that their child is being provided a free and appropriate education under the law. While attorney’s fees can be recovered by whomever prevails, a 2006 U.S. Supreme Court decision determined that costs for expert witnesses can’t.
That puts parents at a disadvantage, Harkin said, since school districts often have experts on staff while families typically must incur significant costs — ranging from $100 to $300 per hour, on average — to retain such services.
Under the senator’s IDEA Fairness Restoration Act, expert witness fees as well as costs for any tests or evaluations needed for a due process case would be classified just like attorney’s fees, allowing parents to recover their expenses in instances where they win.
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