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NYC: Ed officials fail to meet deadlines for SPED help "1,000 times''; "legal disarray"

Sept 3, 2019, Chalkbeat NY: Advocates charge NYC education officials delay orders to provide special education services City education officials have blown the legal deadline to help students with disabilities at least 1,000 times — despite orders from administrative hearing officers, according to advocates who filed a motion in federal court Tuesday.
The filing charges the city is in violation of a longstanding legal settlement from 2007 that requires the Department of Education to provide services or payments to special needs families within 35 days of receiving a hearing officer’s order. According to the most recent data, the DOE blew that deadline over 30% of the time between October 2017 and January 2018. … “After parents go through the lengthy and burdensome process of a hearing and win, they expect their child to finally get the services they need — not months of stalling,” said Rebecca Shore, litigation director for Advocates for Children, which brought the original class action lawsuit in 2003 along with Milbank LLP. The motion asked the court to appoint an independent “special master” to oversee the department’s compliance with the settlement agreement. Tuesday’s filing marked the latest evidence that the legal process for resolving special education disputes is in disarray. … Hochbaum added that the city shouldn’t put parents in a position where they or their lawyers need to constantly stay on top of officials to get services they’re entitled to. … The number of special education complaints like Lopez’s have skyrocketed, more than doubling between 2014-’15 and 2018-’19 — when 9,695 complaints were filed, according to city data. That surge has strained the system. Complaints took an average of 202 days to be closed during the 2017-18 school year, state data show. A report commissioned by the state’s education department found the increase in complaints “render an already fragile hearing system vulnerable to imminent failure and, ultimately, collapse.”…


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