If parents are successful at hearing, the law mandates that schools reimburse parents for their attorneys' fees. Currently, expert witness fees are not reimbursable, even if parents prevail at hearing. Expert witnesses fees can be expensive. Most experts I've worked with charge around $200/hr and most hearings require many hours of an expert's time. Expert witnesses are also essential for winning a special education case.
On March 17, 2011, federal legislation was introduced to allow parents to recover expert witness fees in due process hearings and litigation under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The IDEA Fairness Restoration Act was introduced in the Senate (S.613) by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chair of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee; Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT); and introduced in the House of Representatives (H.R. 1208) by Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX).
The bipartisan IDEA Fairness Restoration Act will restore Congress’ original intent and make due process hearings more equitable and affordable for parents of children with disabilities. Without the ability to recover their expert witness fees, few parents could afford to exercise their constitutional and IDEA rights to challenge denial of FAPE to their children by school districts.
If you are looking for a special education advocate in Massachusetts, contact Boston area attorney Lillian E. Wong today.