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The New York City special-needs community won a big long-standing fight last month, when Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an end to the unfair treatment faced by too many children with special needs and their parents at the hands of the city’s Department of Education.
When the time comes and parents realize that public school cannot meet the needs of their child, federal law allows the child to enroll in a nonpublic school at the cost of the school district. But rather than give these gives the opportunities granted by the Federal Government, the DOE waited for months to respond to parents appeals and put parents in debt by delaying reimbursement payments.
However, years of complaints and protest paid off when Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and de Blasio announced sweeping changes to the flawed DOE system.
One of the most important changes forces the DOE not to challenge a child’s placement unless the child’s IEP (Individualized Education Program) changes. Which should be common sense, why force a parent to engage in a lengthy legal battle with the DOE if the child’s IEP has not changed?
And finally, when placement and tuition reimbursements are approved, this change requires the DOE to present a payment schedule, including amount to parents. Currently parents shoulder large tuition bills indefinitely, with no timetable about reimbursement
So with the summer coming to an end, we look forward to the upcoming school year to see if the DOE’s new policies are implemented quickly and fairly. The special-needs community deserves it.
By Daniel Mayper – Guest Blogger