The Massachusetts House is considering a bill (H.487) that would help to level the playing field between school districts and parents when dealing with special education disputes. As a result of a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court decision (Buckhannon), parents can only be reimbursed attorney's fees if they fully litigate a case and get a decision in their favor. If they settle with the school district prior to a hearing, they are not entitled to attorney's fees. This creates a barrier for low and middle income families, creates an improper incentive for parents not to settle, and creates an improper incentive for school districts not to deal fairly with parents who the school knows will not be able to litigate. H.487 would allow attorney's fees to be reimbursed if the two sides settle in favor of the parents prior to a hearing. Please call your state representative as soon as possible to express your support for H.487. If you do not know who your state representative is, you can find out by going to this web site:
James M. Baron, Esq., M.Ed.