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IDEA Fairness Restoration Act Call-In Day Monday, 12/3 - PLEASE SHARE!

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  • Alpy2@aol.com
    Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. A national voice for special education rights and advocacy PO Box 6767, Towson MD 21285 www.copaa.org
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 28, 2007
      Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc.
      A national voice for special education rights and advocacy
      PO Box 6767 , Towson MD 21285   www.copaa.org
      Jessica Butler, Chair, COPAA Board of Directors & Robert Berlow, Government Relations Chair  (email: protectidea@... )

      Dear COPAAns,
      On Monday, December 3, 2007 , please contact your Congresspersons and ask them to support the bipartisan IDEA Fairness Restoration Act, introduced by Congressmen Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Pete Sessions.  The bill. H.R. 4188, would restore Congress' original intent--that parents who prevail in IDEA due process or court cases can recover their expert witness costs.  Without the legislation, many parents cannot afford expert witness fees, which can run into the thousands of dollars. 
      We are asking for everyone to join us in Contacting your Representative on MONDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2007 .  (This includes parents, advocates, attorneys, and others. )  Please forward this message to your friends, families, colleagues, and others.  Feel free to post on your website.
      (1) Call 202-224-3121 and ask for your Congressional Representative's Office.  Then, ask for the education aide and tell them you would like them to support H.R. 4188, the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act.  You should leave a voicemail message if they are out.

      (2) Send an email to your Representative by going to
      http://www.house.gov/writerep/  and ask them to Support H.R. 4188, The IDEA Fairness Restoration Act.  This form will go directly to your Representative's Office.  Before you send your email, please copy it into a word processing document, along with your Congressperson's name and your name and address, and email that copy to COPAA at protectidea@...  This will enable us to put all of the emails together and show the breadth of support for this important bill.  With the crush of email that reaches Congress, it is important to stand together.
      PLEASE TAKE 5 MINUTES AND JOIN OUR EFFORTS.  WE ARE ASKING EVERYONE TO PARTICIPATE, EVEN IF YOU HAVE ALREADY CONTACTED YOUR CONGRESSPERSON or attended a house party.  We are only contacting Members of the House of Representatives this time.  
      Note: If you are not sure who your Representative is, you can go to http://www.house.gov/ and using the locator in the upper left corner.
      (Feel free to use some of these points when you contact your Representative on December 3.)
      Parents prevail in IDEA cases only when they show that the school district provided an education so inferior that it failed its legal obligations.  Otherwise, they do not prevail and can recover nothing. But, while prevailing parents can recover their attorneys' fees, they cannot recover their expert witness costs, as a result of the Supreme Court's 2006 decision in Arlington Central School District v. Murphy.   The IDEA Fairness Restoration Act would override the Supreme Court's decision and make the system more fair for parents of children with disabilities.
      In 1986, Congress amended the IDEA to allow parents to recover their attorneys' fees when they prevail in due process.  Congress intended this to include expert witness fees.  Congress knew that parents have much less money than school districts and many cannot afford expert witness fees.  The IDEA Fairness Restoration Act would simply restore Congress' intent.
      Twenty-one years later, that reality still has not changed.  Approximately 36% of children with disabilities live in families earning less than $25,000 a year; over 2/3 earn less than $50,000 a year.  Few parents can afford the thousands of dollars needed to pay qualified medical, educational, and technical experts.  While parents must hire expert witnesses to testify, school districts can use therapists, psychologists, and other expert witnesses on their own payroll, or hire outside experts with taxpayer dollars.
      Congress included in the IDEA the right to a due process hearing because it recognized that parents needed an independent dispute resolution process to enforce their children's rights to a free appropriate public education.   Most parents turn to due process and litigation as a last resort.  In 2003, the GAO reported that there were only 5 hearings per 10,000 special education students.  Figures are similar today.  Parents should not be deprived of their right to due process for lack of resources.  
      Approximately 7 million children with disabilities are currently covered by the IDEA. H.R. 4188, the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act, simply protects their rights.  COPAA thanks Congressmen Van Hollen and Sessions for their leadership and dedication to childeren with disabilities.
      And we thank each of you for your support and joining in our efforts with phone calls and emails in support of the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act ON MONDAY DECEMBER 3, 2007 .   PLEASE FORWARD THIS EMAIL AND DISTRIBUTE WIDELY. 
       Thank you,

      Jessica Butler
      Chair, COPAA Board of Directors
      Robert Berlow
      Chair, COPAA Government Relations Committee
      Denise Marshall
      Executive Director, COPAA
      Email us: protectidea@... 
      Sandy, Illinois (alpy2@...)
      Volunteer Co-Webmaster, www.OurChildrenLeftBehind.com (IDEA & NCLB reauthorization)

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