De Blasio Promises Smoother Path for Special Needs Parents

The city pledges to make it easier for special needs parents to get reimbursed.

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.