Supreme Court To Decide Who Pays For Expert Witnesses When Parents
Win IDEA Suits
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 6, 2006
WASHINGTON, DC--The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to decide whether the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires schools to pay for expert witnesses brought in by parents that win lawsuits regarding their children's special education.
The case concerns Pearl and Theodore Murphy who successfully sued Arlington Central School District in Poughkeepsie, New York for the costs of sending their son, Joseph, to a private school for two years. They had argued that the school failed to provide Joseph with a "free appropriate public education".
After the Murphys won the case, they asked the district court to order Arlington to pay the $29,350 it cost them to hire educational consultant Marilyn Arons, M.S.
After determining that Arons did not have to be paid for interest or mileage, the court ordered the school district to pay $8,650 for Arons's fees.
The district appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, which in March 2004 agreed that the IDEA calls for parties who win such cases to be reimbursed for those costs.
According to the Associated Press, U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement urged the high court to hear the appeal in order to resolve a conflict among several appellate courts over whether the IDEA allows payment of expert fees to the winning side.
Murphy v. Arlington Central School District Board of Education (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit)