Skyer Law Senior Partner and Mayor de Blasio Discuss Reimbursement Delays

            As part of our continued commitment to advocate aggressively on behalf of our clients, this week senior partner, Jesse Cutler, spoke with Mayor Bill de Blasio regarding the ongoing delay parents are facing in the DOE settlement process, as a number of agreements await Comptroller review and approval. 

            Jesse, who is respected within the administration as a leading expert in the special education legal field, informed the mayor of the back log that is occurring within the comptroller’s office.  He further stressed that these delays are contrary to the mayor’s own 2014 policy initiative to streamline the settlement process.     

            Upon learning about the issue, Mayor de Blasio reaffirmed his commitment to expedite tuition reimbursements for families of students whose special education needs have not been met by the City. 

            Our staff continues to regularly follow-up on behalf of each client whose settlement agreement is awaiting review and approval in the comptroller’s office.  We also urge that parents continue to reach out to the comptroller’s office directly at (212) 669-3916 to insist upon a status of your child’s case.
  

2015-2016 Settlement Agreements Stalled in the Comptroller’s Office

Parents Forced to Wait Months for Approval

            As we reported in our blog entry on May 3rd, the tuition reimbursement process is being stalled within the NYC Comptroller’s office.  The Comptroller, Scott Stringer, is responsible for reviewing and approving all City contracts, including the Stipulation of Settlement agreements between the DOE and parents of children with special education needs.  Agreements are not released to be counter-signed by the DOE until this review and approval process is complete.  Unfortunately, when undertaking this duty, the Comptroller has not been adhering to the Mayor’s 2014 Policy Initiative to expedite these agreements.
            In addition to our staff’s aggressive follow-up on behalf of clients left in limbo, we are working in concert with a number of other special education agencies and firms to continue to pressure the Comptroller to adhere to the policy.  In response, the Comptroller’s office met earlier this month to discuss the internal review and approval process, and we are beginning to see an uptick in the number of agreements that are moving forward.  We have also learned that as a result of the push-back the office has received directly from parents, the office is scheduling a second meeting at the end of this month to further discuss the delays. 
            We therefore urge parents to continue to contact the Comptroller’s office directly at (212) 669-3916.  In doing so,
you will likely be told that any response from a Comptroller’s office representative to a parent who has retained counsel is limited to a prepared statement.  We advise you to indicate that your legal representative has advised you to make direct contact and to insist upon a status of your child’s case.  You will need to provide your child’s date of birth, along with their nine-digit NYC ID number (also referred to as their OSIS number) which can be found on the first page of the Stipulation agreement.

Congratulations Graduates

Bay Ridge Preparatory Class of 2016

High school graduates from the Bay Ridge Preparatory School in Brooklyn, are excited to take the next step in their educational journey to universities and colleges including American University, Boston College, NYU, Pepperdine University, Sarah Lawrence College and University of California, Berkley.  Among these 66 proud graduates, are students who participated in the Achieve Program and the Bridge Program.

The Bay Ridge Prep Achieve Program is designed to provide a layer of support to students who require additional academic assistance.  This support is offered as a combination of classroom work and supplemental small group work.

The Bridge Program at Bay Ridge Prep is designed to address the needs of students with diagnosed learning differences.  The goal is to maximize the learning potential of each student through the development of a focused, individualized educational program. 

To learn more about Bay Ridge Preparatory School, visit the school’s website.  

Notice of Potential Disclosure

On June 1, 2016, the New York City Department of Education (“DOE”) began to notify parents of the potential for disclosure of the educational records of their children in accordance with a Judge’s Order in M.G. v. N.Y. City Department of Education.

This class action lawsuit seeks to change blanket practices of the DOE and the New York State Education Department with regard to students in State Approved Non-Public Schools and students with an IEP classification of Autism.  The release of these records may result in the provision of better access to programs and services needed by students. The Court states that the educational records will only be disclosed to the attorneys participating in the case and their experts.

No public disclosure of these records will occur. A copy of this notice may be reviewed at http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/E50307E2-1F21-421A-B3A6 BE60CA8DEBD4/0/NoticeofPotentialDisclosureofInformation.pdf

You have the right to opt out of the disclosure of these records. If you wish to opt out, you must print and fill out a form located at http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/95443971-A144-4270-901A-2C6705B1900B/0/ObjectionForm.pdf and return it to the Court by August 7, 2016. 

Pursuing Health Insurance Reimbursements for Your Child’s Therapies

Advice from an Insurance Law Expert             

Recently, the Skyer Law team participated in an in-house professional development seminar that focused on how our clients may be able to pursue their health insurance plans to obtain insurance payments for their child’s therapies and related services. 

The training was provided by leading insurance attorney, Jodi Bouer, the founding partner of Bouer Law LLC, a national insurance advocacy and litigation firm headquartered in Princeton, NJ.    

The major takeaway:  Although parents should primarily pursue services under the IDEA, they should also concurrently explore accessing health insurance reimbursements for supplemental services outside of an educational setting, which are deemed medically necessary. 

For more information and to seek guidance on whether to pursue reimbursements for your child’s therapies under your health insurance plan or to determine whether you should fight your insurer’s denial of your child’s therapeutic services, please call Jodi Bouer at 609-924-3990.

 

2015-2016 Settlements Update

We are working diligently to effectuate tuition reimbursement payments for our clients for the 2015-2016 school year. Unfortunately, the New York City Comptroller, who is responsible for reviewing and approving all settlements, is not adhering to the Mayor’s policy to expedite settlements between parents and the NYC Department of Education (See our June 25, 2014 blog to learn more about the Mayor's Policy: de Blasio Policy Update).

This is resulting in a widespread delay in the settlement process. Despite the persistent follow-up undertaken by our staff, the Comptroller’s Office remains non-responsive to our requests to ascertain the status of settlements. 

In the hope of putting additional pressure on the city, we encourage you - the parent - to contact the Comptroller’s Office directly to request that the Comptroller expedite the review of your child’s settlement. Once you reach the Comptroller’s Office you will most likely be told that, since you have retained counsel, it is your counsel that must make contact with the Comptroller’s Office. We know this, but we also know that squeaky wheels get oiled. As a result, we believe that if enough parents make noise, the Comptroller’s Office will have no choice but to listen.

You can reach the Office of the Comptroller at (212) 669-3916. Please provide the Comptroller’s Office with your child’s nine-digit NYC ID Number and Date of Birth.

Augmentative Alternative Communication

Cocktails and Communication with AAC Connection  

Augmentative or alternative communication (AAC) devices are an invaluable tool for many children whose ASD or other neurological impairment impacts their ability to communicate.  If you are a family member or caregiver of a child who uses an AAC device, AAC Connection is hosting a “Talking AAC Happy Hour”:

Thursday, May 12
6:30 – 8 PM
460 West 34th Street
12th Floor
New York, NY 10001

Attendees will benefit from hands-on AAC instruction from experienced professionals and users in a fun, relaxed environment.   For more information on AAC Connection and to register, visit
http://www.aacconnection.com/events.html.

 

Parenting a Child with Asperger's

Love That Boy

In the book, Love That Boy, columnist Ron Fournier shares his personal story as a parent of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome.  His figurative journey coincides with a cross country road trip with his son, Tyler.  Their father-son bonding experience further informs Fournier’s understanding – and his appreciation – of Tyler’s uniqueness.   Read more about Ron’s story here.

Autistic Student Assaulted by His Paraprofessional

Autistic Student Assaulted by His Paraprofessional

Yesterday, a local NY newspaper reported on a pending civil case against a paraprofessional who allegedly struck a then 9-year-old autistic student in the lunchroom of PS 225, which is located in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn.  A video showing the incident was made public yesterday in the course of civil litigation against the paraprofessional and the city.  Read more about this disturbing case here.  

Autism Awareness Month

                April is Autism Awareness Month.  Depending upon a child’s specific Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), language development and the ability to communicate will likely be impacted.  Many children with an ASD diagnosis will have difficulty using language effectively, while others may be completely non-verbal. 
                Many of these children can benefit from Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) methods.  In fact, children with a wide variety of communication and language deficiencies, in addition to those with an ASD diagnosis, can benefit from AAC technological applications.  In support of Autism Awareness Month, the Apple App Store is providing the following AAC app downloads at a discounted price:

How to Survive Turning 5 Seminar

How to Survive Turning 5
A FREE Seminar for NYC Parents of Children with Special Needs


Regina Skyer and attorneys from the Skyer Law team will guide parents through the complex process of entering the NYC special education system.  One-on-one question and answer session will follow the presentation.  Teachers, therapists and related service providers are welcome.  Spaces are limited.  Register today!

Tuesday, February 9
7:30 – 9:30pm

Brooklyn Conservatory of Music
58 Seventh Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217
REGISTER

NEW DATE ADDED:
Thursday, February 25
7 – 9pm

New York Open Center
22 East 30th Street
New York, NY 10016

REGISTER

How to Survive Turning 5: The handbook for NYC parents special needs children
   now available Amazon.  



Putting the Department of Education on Notice

 

While you and your children are enjoying the last unofficial weeks of summer, our attorneys have been busy working on your cases and getting ready for another successful year. If your child attends a private special education school/program and you are hoping to be reimbursed for this placement a 10 Day Notice of Intention is part of the required legal process for tuition reimbursement.

 

On Monday, August 24th our offices filed over 1000 of these individualized notices.This written notice is required by law to be filed with the school district ten days before a parent's removal of their child from the public school. This means 10 days before the child starts at his or her private school. The notices have to: (1)inform the school district of the specific reasons that the parent(s) disagree with the IEP and program recommendation made by the CSE; (2) as a result of these disagreements they intend to place their child at the XYZ private school; and (3) the parents intent to seek tuition reimbursement for this placement. The school district has ten business days to address these concerns. Starting last year, Mayor diBlasio initiated a policy whereby a district could recommend settlement based on the notice alone. We are told that the NYC DOE will continue to follow this policy and will inform us within 15 days of receipt of this notice whether they are going to settle the case based on the notice alone. The goal in our firm is to have the school district read this notice and be convinced that they should settled the case for tuition reimbursement. If the district does not agree to settle a case, we then have to file for an impartial hearing. Settlement can also happen once the full hearing request is filed. Our team does everything possible to avoid an impartial hearing. Check your email regularly; once we hear back from the DoE, your case manager or the paralegal assigned to your case will be reaching out with next steps.  Please note: If your child has a 12-month IEP, your notice was filed in June.

 

Exciting News: We are growing!

Hi Everyone,

On August 1st, our administrative operations will be moving to our new Brooklyn location, located at  142 Joralemon Street, Suite 11C. 

Our Manhattan offices will be undergoing renovations. We have temporary offices available for consultations in Manhattan. Our contact information remains the same. 

If you have any questions about this, please contact Ben Foley at BFOLEY@SKYERLAW.COM OR 212-532-9736.