United States Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat from Iowa, wants to improve IDEA and make it better for parents. In a recent article on Disability Scoop, Harkness stated he has introduced legislation that will allow parents to recoup their fees for expert witnesses in a due process hearing if they prevail.
In 2006, the US Supreme Court ruled parents can get their attorney feeds paid by the school district if they win, but they were still on the hook for the expert witnesses. These witnesses could include doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, or neurologists. All of which charge hourly for witness testimony at more than their typical hourly rate.
According to the Disability Scoop article:
“Without access to expert witnesses, families may be unable to make an argument for the educational needs of their children,” Harkin said. “This legislation is an essential step for protecting the rights of students with disabilities and ensuring that all families, regardless of their financial resources, can advocate for and protect their children’s rights through due process, consistent with congressional intent.”
As well, Senator Harkin has introduced other legislation which would allow for IDEA to gradually increase their funding until they reach the 40% funding cap they originally agreed to almost 40 years ago. This would give more desperately needed special education funding to schools. The plan would allow for the full funding to be reached by 2023. The funding for this, according to the legislation, would come from tax increases for those earning more than $1 million a year.
For more information, please read the article at http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2014/09/12/senator-burden-idea-disputes/19667/