web analytics
June 30, 2015 / 13 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Special-Needs Parents See Path Forward

Yachad-Logo

The goal of public policy advocacy is to achieve results that make people’s lives better. Through the efforts of committed parents and grass roots advocates, sympathetic legislators, and community groups that refused to stand down, such a result was won recently for New York’s special needs community, when the de Blasio administration put an end to the horror faced by too many children with special needs and their parents at New York City’s Department of Education (DOE)

Make no mistake. While it sounds like hyperbole, the horror stories are real. Routinely, parents of some of the 170,000 children with special needs found themselves waiting well beyond the federally required 90-day deadline for appeals. New York City’s DOE challenged placements year after year, even when the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) remained the same. According to one mother, the DOE changed her daughter’s classification from autism and back, depending solely on the school’s placement availability. And one advocate noted that several therapists had stopped working on Department of Education (DOE) placements because they weren’t getting paid.

Finally, years of complaints by parents and lobbying by special-needs advocates paid off. Mayor de Blasio – in an about face from the attitude of the Bloomberg administration – agreed to implement major policy changes to this flawed system. These new administrative changes will result in a win-win for both parents and the city. Life will become much easier for the parents who choose, as allowed by federal law, to educate their children with special needs in non-public school environments because the public school system cannot serve their needs. And the city will be free of new state legislation imposed upon it from Albany.

These newly announced changes resolve three areas of inefficiency that for too long have been the standard operating procedures at the DOE.

The most important change, which will alleviate an incalculable amount of time, stress, and monetary loss for parents, requires the DOE not to challenge the placement of a child unless the placement recommendation is changed during the annual review of the child’s IEP. This is basic common sense. After all, why force a parent to engage in a lengthy, protracted legal battle with the DOE if the child’s IEP remains constant? Inexplicably, the DOE challenged the placement of every child who attended a non-public school, year after year.

Federal regulations require that all appeals are resolved within 90 days, but New York City’s DOE has long been out of compliance with those regulations, resulting in unconscionable delays in providing treatment and schooling to children with special needs. Addressing this problem, the second change requires the DOE to resolve appeals regarding placement within 15 days. We applaud Mayor de Blasio for going above and beyond what the federal regulations require in order to bring a quicker resolution to these matters.

Finally, when placement of a child and tuition reimbursement is agreed upon, the DOE will present a clear payment schedule, including amounts, to parents. Currently, parents shoulder large tuition bills indefinitely, with no timetable as to when reimbursement can be expected.

There are several key lessons here for parents and advocates. The first is that change can happen, even if it takes longer than expected or desired.

The second lesson is that change occurs when allies unite on common policy goals. In addition to the parents, many organizations joined together to pressure the legislature to amend the law, including the Orthodox Union, Agudath Israel , the NYS Catholic Conference, and Yachad – The National Jewish Council for Disabilities.

That advocacy effort found committed leadership in Albany. Senator Simcha Felder, after an impassioned floor speech, and Senator John Flanagan shepherded the legislation to passage in the Senate. On the Assembly side, with the blessing of Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assembly Members Helene Weinstein and Phil Goldfeder lined up the legislation for a vote, assuring its passage. In New York City, Council Member David Greenfield kept up the pressure by lobbying city officials, as he has done for the past several years.

About the Author: Jeff Leb is the New York State director of political affairs for the Orthodox Union and the OU-Teach NYS Initiative.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Special-Needs Parents See Path Forward”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
A "rifle-holding" lesson at a Palestinian Authority summer camp.
Palestinian Authority Incites Summer Camp Kids with AK-47 Rifles
Latest Indepth Stories
Matan Katzman. regional executive at the StandWithUs

No longer will delegitimization efforts go unchallenged. That’s a silence we will continue to break.

Flag of Sweden

Increasingly, Sweden is becoming a country where anti-Semitism & supporting terrorism is acceptable.

Community-Jewels-logo

Rabbi Pfeffer points out that at his site, there are no one-line answers. “We want to show the people we’re interested in their questions,” he says.

Menachem Zivotofsky sued the U.S. government because the U.S. refused to include "Israel" alongside "Jerusalem" as the place of his birth on his passport. So far the courts have sided with the government.

The problem with US treatment of Israel did not start with Obama but with birth of Jewish State

The pathetic failure of the Marianne to reach Gaza is the best thing that has happened to Israel since Hamas mis-fired a rocket on its own civilians.

Wonder why Israel has the world’s most insane rules of engagement imposed on its military? Read on..

Think political Islam’s a problem now just wait until an Islamist nuclear umbrella covers the region

Fiorina’s wrong about Islam which embraces our death&destruction confusing pc theories for hard fact

Bangladesh PM Hasina is fighting terror not only for her nation but for the entire civilized world.

No necessity to redefine marriage, just address equal rights for couples in non-nuclear families

PM Netanyahu has pledged the nation won’t rest until the hero Eli Cohen is returned home to Israel

“Palestinian armed groups” & “local authorities” are named in the report; Hamas’ absence stands out

Dating apps have really changed the way many young Jews approach dating.

The families of those slain even publicly forgave the murderer. Charleston was serene and at peace.

Changing plans needn’t be a frustrating experience. Sometimes the new path proves far more rewarding

More Articles from Jeff Leb
Leb-103114

Many poskim were and are adamant about the responsibility of every individual to vote.

Yachad-Logo

“a groundbreaking shift toward equitable and efficient treatment of our most vulnerable children”

Make no mistake: the potential here is enormous. If all of these budget items are approved, they could be a game changer for Jewish day schools and their budgets.

The challenge of day school affordability is not just an economic but an existential one; it is about the continuity and vitality of the next generation of Jews. While enrollments are at an all-time high, so are tuition bills.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/special-needs-parents-see-path-forward/2014/07/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: