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NYC: SPED system 'entirely broken'; parents face 9 month wait over complaints;

Feb 10, 2020, NY Daily News: NYC parents of special needs students file class action suit over special education court delays Disabled city students who file legal complaints over their treatment at school wait an average of nine months for a resolution, despite a federal legal wait-time limit of 75 days, a new class action lawsuit alleges. The special education courts are designed to protect the legal rights of those children, but the city’s system is so overburdened that vulnerable students wait months or years for help getting critical support, according to the legal complaint. “This problem has been getting worse for years and years and years,” said Danielle Tarantolo, a lawyer at New York Legal Assistance Group, which represents five families in the suit filed Friday in Manhattan federal court — the first class action to take on the delays, Tarantolo said, adding: “The system remains entirely broken." The strains reflect the ballooning number of legal complaints against the city’s Education Department for failing to accommodate children’s special ed needs. During the 2017-18 school year, for example, there were 7,000 such complaints — more than California, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Texas combined, according to an 2019 analysis commissioned by the state education department. Parents can file legal grievances when a school refuses to evaluate a child for a learning disability, offers inadequate support, or declines to recommend a school better suited to the child’s needs. But the city has only 69 special education judges to handle the load. As a result, 10,000 legal cases remain open, and it takes an average of 259 days for a complaint to wind its way through the legal system, a violation of the 75-day federal limit, the suit alleges….


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