De Blasio Promises Smoother Path for Special Needs Parents

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 - 06:35 PM

City officials promised on Tuesday to make it easier for parents to get reimbursed when they send a special-needs child to private school.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced the new policy at a press conference alongside Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and other state lawmakers. Federal law requires the city to pay for such programs when parents can't find the right program in public schools. 

Starting this fall, when parents of children with disabilities seek tuition reimbursement, things will be different,” de Blasio said.

The city’s pledged to settle most disputed cases within 15 days, to expedite the payment process to parents, to simplify the paperwork and to leave settled claims closed instead of re-opening litigation. 

Parents of special needs children have complained for years that the process of obtaining reimbursement was complicated, lengthy and expensive. And state lawmakers threatened legislation that would legally bind the city to change its policies.

The New York Times reported that the deal announced on Tuesday effectively halted action in Albany.


Comments [2]


Gotham Education Past and Present from Brooklyn,

As a parent of a child with learning differences who struggled in the public school and found literally no options we had to look into a special school for her. These are not regular private schools we are talking about - they are for children with learning disabilities - they are only accepted if they actually meet those criteria. They are not posh schools where people opt-out of public school. For a family like us we struggled with personal loans for the past two years to give our daughter the remediation and learning strategies to make her the confident learning she is now. But at the expense of nearly 100k$ in personal loans and waiting for months and months for any reimbursement from the DOE - we are still waiting and are paying hundreds of dollars a month in interest on these loans. :(

This system is very flawed right now. We are now main streaming her - we had no choice because we could bare to go through paying all the money and waiting months and months for reimbursement. We recognize it will be a struggle for her going back to public school but our fingers are crossed.

I am happy for the families who struggle with this like we did and hope this can help them. For those that are wealthy - this new process wouldn't have affected them one way or another.

Jun. 25 2014 12:55 PM
Gotham Education Past and Present from Brooklyn

Way to go de Blasio! Thanks for doing our part in maintaining the status quo of many well to do parents who use due process hearings to mask their utter hatred for the public school system. Thanks de Blasio for fulfilling your campaign promises with absolutely no regard for DOE attorneys and district representatives who are in the muck of impartial hearings every day! Mr. Mayor, have you determined the cost-effectiveness of this new policy? Why should tax payers shell out over $200 million each year to parents who use this process to keep their children in religious schools and/or away from big bad public schools? Is it just too expensive to create quality special education programs in community schools?? Due process hearings in NYC, overwhelmingly favor the rich!! In order to qualify for reimbursement, you have to shell out the cost of private school tuition. For the few parent's who seek tuition to be paid directly to the private school, the law requires that they PROVE that they cannot afford it by providing their tax returns!

Now that you have apologetically conceded that public schools cannot serve children with special needs (via your Communications Press Release) how are you going to help the children in community schools?? How are you going to provide quality special education services to the children whose families cannot afford thousands of dollars to hire attorneys and fork over thousands more for private school tuition?

I propose you take a look at the reasons WHY the district is not able to defend recommendations at hearing? I would suggest perhaps improving the continuum of services, hiring reading teachers/specialists, creating more programs for children with Autism and creating smaller classes for cognitively bright students with learning disabilities - to name a few!

Charter schools are failing our special needs children and now it seems that you, Mr. Mayor, bow your head in defeat!

Jun. 24 2014 09:32 PM

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