Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc.
national voice for special education rights and
PO Box 6767 ,
Jessica Butler, Chair, COPAA Board of Directors & Robert
Berlow, Government Relations Chair (email: protectidea@... )
SUPPORT IDEA FAIRNESS RESTORATION ACT!
NATIONAL CALL CONGRESS DAY, MONDAY
PLEASE FORWARD AND DISTRIBUTE WIDELY!
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
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
(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 tohttp://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.
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
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
WHY SUPPORT THE IDEA FAIRNESS RESTORATION
(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
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
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
Chair, COPAA Board of Directors
Chair, COPAA Government Relations
Executive Director, COPAA