Sunday, April 20, 2014

Follow us:
Follow @NY1 on Twitter Subscribe to this news feed 


NY1 Exclusive: Parents Sue City, State Over Stalled Decisions For Their Special Needs Children's Education

  • Text size: + -
TWC News: NY1 Exclusive: Parents Sue City, State Over Stalled Decisions For Their Special Needs Children's Education
Play now

Time Warner Cable video customers:
Sign in with your TWC ID to access our video clips.

  To view our videos, you need to
enable JavaScript. Learn how.
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.

Then come back here and refresh the page.

Some parents of students with disabilities are playing the waiting game to find out whether the city will pay for their children's education, and the decision has taken so long that officials are now breaking the law. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Roanni Castro has been waiting more than 200 days for a decision that state law says she should have had in 30 days.

It involves the most important thing in her life: education for her son Emir, a child with special needs.

"I would go to the end of the world for him," she said.

Forget the end of the world. Their case is caught up in Albany.

When the city and a family disagree over what type of services a child with special needs requires, and how much the city should pay for it, a state review board makes the final call.

But that process has stalled. Decisions are taking hundreds of days when they're required to be issued within a month.

It leaves families in limbo over whether or not the city will pay for their child's education.

"For some, it's a question of moving money around," said Lawrence Weinberg of Susan Luger & Associates. "For others, it's a question of, 'Are they going to go bankrupt?' For others, it's a question of sending $25 or $100 a month to the schools so that their children don't get kicked out.

Lawyers who offer free representation to low-income families said that for their clients, a long delay often means students aren't getting the education or therapy they need in the meantime.

The state said it is overwhelmed by "an extraordinarily high increase in the number of appeals over the last 22 months."

In 2010, it had 130 cases to decide. By 2012, it had jumped to 239.

Why so many more? Advocates said it's because city lawyers have started challenging many more of the decisions that would require them to pay for private services.

So on Tuesday, lawyers representing nine city families from all five boroughs sued the city and state in federal court.

"Decisions are between 100 and 300 days late," Weinberg said.

They're asking for their children's education to be paid for, and for the state review board to be forced to follow the law. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP