This chapter focuses on the story of Joseph Murphy, a child who foundered in school despite receiving special education services for about ten years before his parents decided to send him to a private school. The Murphys' case highlights the need for parents to have an educational consultant and a lay advocate assist them to help ensure that their children receive appropriate services. This chapter shows what Joseph's parents had to go through before they were able to secure, through the assistance of a pro bono educational advocate, an acceptable placement for him in a private school. It examines the Supreme Court's ruling that parents could not recover the costs of their expert witnesses—which are essential to winning a case under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)—even if they are the prevailing party. Joseph's story illustrates how the courts have interpreted the IDEA to make it nearly impossible for any but the richest parents to persuade school districts to pay for a private education for their children with disabilities.
Keywords: special education, Joseph Murphy, private school, parents, Supreme Court, expert witnesses, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, school district, private education, children with disabilities
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