De Blasio vows to fix special education reimbursement program
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has assured state lawmakers that his administration is currently working to streamline the process of applying for and receiving aid for families with special education students who chose private school programs. Though NYC public schools do offer special education programs, some families feel that the specific disabilities and skill levels cannot be met through the public school offerings.
The mayor’s verbal commitment comes just shy of the State Assembly nearly passing a law that would force de Blasio to change the system in favor of families with special education needs. The bill already passed the State Senate. Among other things, the legislation would put an end to the annual review process that forces families to re-enter their information and paperwork for reimbursement.
New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who spoke directly to de Blasio, says that the Assembly will pass the bill if the NYC administration falls short of its promises on the matter.
The latest bill comes after a string of others with similar intent over the past three years — none of which have passed. Among the opponents to the removal of the annual review process is the New York State School Boards Association that argues that the yearly requirement is necessary since children’s needs change over time. In addition to special education families, New York City’s Orthodox Jewish Community supports easier reimbursement for private and religious school tuition for the special education students that need it.
I think that any reimbursement program outside the public school system that uses tax dollars should be subject to scrutiny, but it seems the families of special education students are facing unfair treatment. I hope that de Blasio is able to live up to his promises regarding the streamlining of this process.