posted Mar 29, 2011, 4:21 PM by Jackie Yearby   [ updated May 20, 2011, 1:20 PM ]
Important: Support of the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act *

Dear Parent/Advocate,

 I’m writing to ask for your support of the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act, recently introduced in the U.S. Congress as

 S. 613 and H.R. 1208. This proposed legislation seeks to correct inequity brought about by a 2006 Supreme Court

decision and to realign parental rights in the IDEA with Congressional intent.  To show support for this proposed

legislation, I’m asking that you contact your members of the House and Senate on Wednesday, May 4, 2011.

On that day, disability rights advocates across the nation will take part in a coordinated effort to gain support for this legislation.


In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled (in Arlington Central School District v. Murphy) that parents cannot recover                   expert witness fees in IDEA due process hearings and court cases. Few parents can afford the money needed for                  medical, educational, and other expert testimony. Low- and middle-income parents are particularly impacted. The             situation is made even worse because parents have the burden of proof in these hearings.

For 35 years, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has required school districts to provide a free              appropriate public education to children with disabilities. But when a school fails to live up to this legal obligation,                 the IDEA provides that parents may seek an impartial hearing.

Parents must have expert witnesses for these hearings in order to prove that the school district did not provide their            children with a free appropriate public education. Expert witnesses can include psychologists; pediatricians and                 physicians; speech, occupational, physical and other therapists; educational experts; inclusion experts; positive                behavioral support experts, and others. While districts can use their own staff as expert witnesses, parents must                 pay for expert witnesses.


Like all civil rights statutes, the IDEA allows prevailing parents to recover their attorneys’ fees. The IDEA Fairness  Restoration Act – introduced as S. 613 in the Senate and H.R. 1028 in the House - will amend the IDEA,                            20 U.S.C. 1415(i)(3), to state that prevailing parties can also recover their expert witness fees at the same time.          Congress intended that parents have this right when it amended the IDEA in 1986.


On Wednesday, May 4th, please contact both your member of the House of Representatives and your two Senators           and ask them to Co-sponsor S.613 and H.R. 1208, the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act. It is best to call your             Representative (House) and Senators (Senate).  Calls are more personal and more attention is paid to a phone call.               Even a two-minute call makes a difference!


Call 202-224-3121 (TTY 202-225-1904) to be connected to your representatives’ office.  Ask for the staff member who                 handles education or disability issues.  Share with them the information below.


In addition to or in lieu of your call, please email your Congressman through special forms available on House of Representatives website and your Senators through a Web Form available on the Senate website.


Below is information you can share with Congress as you ask for their support. Use it for your phone calls and emails.   Please personalize your message with information about your child.

Dear Congressman/Senator,

Please co-sponsor the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act, H.R. 1208 and S.613.  The bill would restore Congress’                original intent in enacting the Handicapped Children’s Protection Act of 1986 that parents who prevail in                  administrative hearings and court actions be allowed to recover expert witness fees.  The bill would overturn the                2006 Supreme Court decision in Arlington Central School District v. Murphy.  When school districts provide an                education so poor that they fail their legal obligations, parents can seek an impartial due process hearing to                protect their child.  In those hearings parents must provide testimony from such expert witnesses as                  psychologists, doctors, therapists, and educational experts.  This testimony is needed to prove that a free                 appropriate public education was not provided to their children.  Few parents can afford expert witnesses.  Nearly               36% of children with disabilities live in families earning less than $25,000 a year; over two-thirds in families earn           less than $50,000 a year.  Without the ability to afford expert witnesses, the right to a due process hearing is  meaningless for most parents.  

This bill simply gives parents the same right as prevailing plaintiffs under the Americans with Disabilities Act and            other similar laws to recover expert fees.  When Congress passed the Handicapped Children’s Protection Act of               1986, it intended that parents would recover expert witness fees in IDEA cases, as clearly stated in the               Conference Report.  But the Murphy decision overrode that intent.  We now ask Congress to restore its original           intent and provide parents with the right to recover expert witness fees if they win their case.


I hope you will join with thousands of parents and advocates on Wednesday, May 4th in support of the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act.

Thank you for your continued efforts on behalf of students with learning disabilities.


Laura Kaloi
Public Policy Director
National Center for Learning Disabilities


The 13th Annual Family Cafe (Register Now)
June 3rd, 2011 12:00 AM   through   June 5th, 2011 5:00 PM
1000 West Buena Vista Drive
Disney Coronado Springs Resort
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
United States
Phone: 407-939-1020 (Reservations)
Phone: 850-224-4670 (The Family Café)
Email: info@familycafe.net

The 13th Annual Family Cafe will be held at the Disney Coronado Springs Resort and Convention Center on June 3-5, 2011. We are planning a great event, with all sorts of information and resources for you and your family. We hope you are looking forward to joining us!

Limited Financial Assistance is available to individuals with disabilties and their families. You can apply for Financial Assistance to cover the cost of your accommodations by noting your request on the registration form.

Rooms at the conference site are available at the reduced rate of $109 per night. To make a reservation, or learn more about the Coronado, please visit their web site or call 407/939-1020.

If you have questions, we are here to help. Call our office at 888/309-2233 or send us an e-mail at info@familycafe.net This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

The 13th Annual Family Cafe promises to be a fun, informative event for people with disabilties and their families. As you will see from the listing of activities and breakout sessions included in the At-A-Glance, there is a very full weekend planned, with sessions on a wide range of topics. There is sure to be something for every family! We have continued our practice of organizing some sessions into "tracks" based on theme, and added a new track for Military Families for 2011.

If you'd like to plan what you which sessions you will attend, or just get a flavor for the event we have planned for you, please check out the At-A-Glance today!


This year's 13th Annual Family Cafe will feature all of the information, resources and networking opportunities that have made our past events so successful, including a range of engaging Breakout Sessions, a collection of engaging booth displays in our Exhibit Hall, and a chance to converse with state leaders at The 13th Annual Summit on Disabilities. It should be an educational, entertaining and empowering weekend. We hope to see you there!


Florida Institute of Technology


the Scott Center for Autism Treatment


Behavior Basics Boot Camp: Making your Classroom more Manageable

Instruction by Dr. Meagan Gregory and Dr. Alison Betz

Friday July 29th

9am- 3 pm with lunch included

3-5 pm (hands on planning for your classroom)

Cost: $50.00

Challenging Behavior

·         Identifying and assessing why challenging behavior occurs in the classroom

·         General prevention strategies for managing challenging behavior

·         Choosing interventions for challenging behavior in the classroom

·         How to take data on behaviors while teaching

·         Determining when outside support is needed


General Classroom Structure and Strategies

·         Setting up individual and group token economies

·         Group contingencies

·         Classroom and individual schedules

·         Basics of reinforcement

·         Getting students to participate

To reserve your spot contact: Colleen Middlebrooks, Outreach Coordinator

321-674-8106 x1