The city's Education Department has promised to speed up the process for assisting students with disabilities, but parents and advocates say it's just not happening.
"They're putting these families and children through hell, for no reason at all," State Senator Simcha Felder said.
Felder gathered with families to urge Mayor de Blasio to follow through on a five-year-old promise to speed up reimbursements to families that are paying for private school because public schools do not offer the services their children need.
"The city is obligated under federal law to do the right thing by these children and families, and make sure that they get the services and the reimbursements in a timely fashion," said Felder.
Delays have gotten so bad that legal advocates for students with special needs have asked a federal judge to monitor the city's payments, saying the Education Department routinely violates a 12-year-old legal settlement to provide timely services.
The Education Department says they've hired new staffers to cut down on the delays. But parents and providers say things haven't gotten better.
"It's been better in the past; it's gotten worse year by year. We’re waiting for 2017/2018 cases, we're in 19/20 now," Annie Abadi, the parent liaison at private school Gesher Yehuda, said.
Abadi says the city owes the private school she works for one-point-five million dollars in tuition reimbursements from the city.
"It's very hard to provide these children with the education that they need without receiving all this money and you know asking the parents for it, some parents really just don't have it and it's a very hard struggle that we deal with daily," said Abadi.
Rickel Geffner says it's taken more than a year to reach a settlement with the department for her child's tuition, and it will still be months until she sees any reimbursement for last year's schooling.
"We are supposed to go through this process every year. I mean, her diagnosis of Down syndrome is not going to change. Why do we have to do this every single year?" said Geffner.