“The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.”

Robert M. Hutchins


Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Related Service Nightmare for CPSE Children

September 12th, 2012

Some of you may have received a surprise call in early September from your related service provider informing you that the CPSE is refusing to sign contracts with individual related service providers (Occupational, Physical and Speech Therapists).  This change in policy and practice came as a surprise and shock to parents and providers and has left most of you without therapies for these last two weeks.


The DOE is claiming that they are merely following a policy that has always been on the books but one that they simply chose not to follow.  This policy is that the city must first offer your child’s service mandates to city approved agencies.   It is only after these contracted agencies decline to take your child’s case that the CPSE will sign the authorization permitting you to use an independent provider.  The people who are suffering are your children and the independent professionals who are competent and effective in working with your children.


Although the DOE is certainly within their “rights” to assign these cases to agencies, they are not within their rights to delay services to your child.


Clearly this new policy is driven solely by finances.  The agencies are supposedly charging far less than the independent providers.  My opinion is that the DOE is looking to put these small independent providers out of business.  All of the sensory gyms that your children go to are fully dependent on their DOE contracts to stay in business.  If they are not given contracts within the next few weeks many of them will simply shut their doors.


What we are recommending is that parents holler loud and in unison.   We are also advising clients that if they can afford to they should begin to privately pay for these services and then sue for reimbursement.  If this is the route that you are choosing to follow you must consult your attorney.

Surviving Turning Five: The Calendar Year Rule

April 4th, 2012

In NYC a special needs child stops receiving CPSE services and must enter the school age unit of the CSE in September of the year in which the child turns five.  I refer to this “The Calendar Year Rule.”

The calendar year rule means that for all children born anytime during 2007 (January 1, 2007 – December 31, 2007) their pre-school services terminate in August and they are expected to enter kindergarten in September 2012. The program and services that they will receive as a kindergarten student are very different from what they received through the CPSE. This claendar year rule is not logical and does not take into consideration the maturity or unique needs of each child.     

For example, if Sophie was born on January 1,  at 12:01 a.m  and is receiving SEIT and related services these finish in August 2012 and she enters kindergarten three weeks later. Around the corner lives Jack, who was born almost a year later, on December 31,2007 at 11:59p.m. Jack also receives services through the CPSE, he has a dual program consisting of a center based pre-school as well as home services. Although Sophie is clearly ready to enter kindergarten Jack is not, at each of their turning five CSE reviews the teams will recommended the exact same program ( an ICT class and related services in school)

What to do?


Lots of options  – read the next blog!




Surviving Turning Five

March 28th, 2012

This weekly blog will be devoted to the issues and concerns facing parents whose children are aging out of the CPSE and entering the school aged unit of the CSE.  These children are referred to as “Turning Five Students.”  As with all of our postings we welcome your comments and questions and will respond either by a personal email or via a blog.  The blog is specific to families residing in the five boroughs of New York City, but can be helpful to those of you in the outlining suburbs. It will be particularly helpful if your family is contemplating a move to New York City.

New York is considered the mecca of special education for students of all ages.  We have the most and finest of private schools of anywhere in the world!  The amount and quality of pre- school services that children receive cannot be rivaled.  However, where our city falls short is in the school age services and programs.  There are many fine public programs, like the NEST classes, however finding these programs and gaining access to them is not as easy as it should be.

Most of you who are reading this blog already have an IEP and your child is receiving services through the school district.  Therefore you have familiarity with the terms and acronyms that are so readily tossed about.  Nonetheless as with all large bureaucracies their develops a lexicon unique to that system and often used to mystify outsiders and empower those who work for the system.  Learn the language!   Visit our website and go to the Glossary- it’s a start.


October 5th, 2011


Parents frequently want their child to receive a home program of related services and or ABA on top of or in addition to seeking funding or reimbursement for placement in a private special education school.  By pursuing this type of claim beware, you are most likely going to find yourselves at an Impartial Hearing.


What the school district will argue is that if a parent is seeking an afterschool program then the private school where the child is enrolled is not appropriate.  The district bases their argument on case law that says for a private school to be deemed appropriate for a specific child it has to be able to meet all of that child’s special education needs.  So you see when you as a parent are asking for after school services you are saying or implying that the school is not meeting all of your child’s needs.


Now of course we all know this is not the case, and that there are many children, particularly those that are on the Autistic Spectrum that need not only a highly specialized private school but a continuation of services after school in order for them to be able to access the education that they receive in the private school.


These types of cases are very complicated and require a great deal of pre-hearing planning.  We suggest that any parent who wants to pursue this type of action, meet with an attorney specializing in this area of law.  We need to help you create a full record prior to your requesting an impartial hearing.   We need your private school to be on board and supports your position.  We need to demonstrate that you have requested this to the CSE and what their response has been.  And most importantly, we need to show that the home program is benefitting your child’s functioning in school, in essence your child needs this in order to effectively access his school program.





April 22nd, 2011

Private Special Education Schools are centered in NYC. Find out about Approved and Independent private special ed schools in NYC in Skyer Law’s blog series.

New York City is the epicenter of Private Special Education Schools.  As I explained in the last blog, Private Special Education Schools,  there are two categories of Private Special Education Schools -  Approved and Independent.   Here is an abridged list of some of the Independent Special Education Private Schools serving special needs students:  Aaron, Bay Ridge Prep, Brooklyn Center for Autism, Children’s Academy, Columbia Grammar LRE, Cooke Center and Academy, Dwight Quest, Eagle Hill, Forman, Forum, Foundation, Gateway Middle, Gersh, Hear our Voices, Ideal, Imagine, Manhattan Children’s Center, Manhattan Day, Mary McDowell Friends School, McCarton School, Reach for the Stars,  Rebecca, Robert Louis Stevenson,  Smith School, Stephen Gaynor, Sterling, West End Day, Windward, Winston Prep, Vincent Smith, Xaverian Legacy and Equity, Y.E.S.S., York Prep Jumpstart.

The salient feature that sets these Independent Special Education Private Schools apart from the Approved  special education private schools is that they do not appear on the New York State list and therefore they cannot be recommended or funded directly through the school district.  There are also other noteworthy distinctions.  The Independent Private Special Education Schools are not bound by many of the restrictions of the State Education Department, and thus can set their own admissions criteria, class size, curriculum, staffing requirements.  Since they do their own screening they rely heavily on the reports of private evaluators.  Many of these private special education schools provide parents with a list of evaluators that are familiar with their school and whom they recommend.  The independent schools are not required to follow a child’s IEP, and don’t even require that a child have one.

An Independent Private Special Education School can set their own tuition rate, and since they require payment from the parent they each set their own terms of enrollment and most require a parent to enter into a contract with them.  Many of the parents who enroll their children in these independent special education schools hire attorneys and bring a lawsuit against their school district seeking tuition reimbursement.  These lawsuits are based on parents’ belief that the school district failed to offer their special needs child a “FAPE” (Free Appropriate Public Education).  Any parent that is thinking about this route regarding special education schools should consult an attorney who specializes in this area of law early in the process. Many parents are under the misconception that there is an automatic reimbursement program – this is simply not the truth and my next blog will attempt to clarify this myth….so stay tuned….



April 7th, 2011

New York City is home to more private special education schools than anywhere in the country or world.  When we speak of private special education schools we actually mean two distinct categories of schools:  Approved and Independent.  Today’s blog will discuss the Approved private special education schools and what this means for parents.

To receive New York State Approved status a school has to apply and meet standards and criteria set forth by the New York State Education Department, located in Albany.  To become an approved school is not an easy process.  It is time consuming and expensive.  After meeting  hefty requirements and conditions, the school then has to agree to the tuition rate set by the State Education Department.  In many instances the tuition rate is far less than what it costs to actually educate a student.

The appealing benefit of Approved School status to a parent is that when the IEP review team determines that there is no appropriate public school for a child, they can recommend and fund placement at an approved private school.  This is referred to as funding and it is why these schools are often referred to as “funded schools.” For a complete list of the New York State approved schools go to:    http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/privateschools/home.html

Because there is a possibility of prospective funding and parents not having to expend tuition fees, the Approved schools are very popular.  Within the five boroughs of New York City I estimate 25 such schools.  There are other schools that are out of the city in nearby suburbs that also have Approved status.  These schools serve different types of children and are licensed only to accept certain classifications.  It is important to speak with someone who is familiar with your child and these schools to get a list of which school might best serve your child.

The next three blog posts will continue to deal with Private School placement and funding.  I will address the category of Independent Private Special Education Schools and how the funding process works.  Stay posted…



AGING OUT OF C.S.E. – graduating and transition time…

March 16th, 2011

I received an interesting email this week and the question is an important one:

“Our son David is scheduled to graduate from Summit school this coming June.  Because of all the support and special education he has received, he has passed either Regents exams or RCT exams and therefore qualifies for a real high school diploma.  Yet, because of all of David’s issues he can’t attend a regular college and we found a special education post high school program that offers support, small classes and life skills.  It is not a degree program and we were told that there were several students whose school districts were funding or contributing towards the tuition.  Are we eligible for this once he graduates from Summit?”

The quick answer is only if you are willing to sacrifice David’s  receiving a true and genuine high school diploma.  New York State Commissioner’s Regulations state that a child is eligible to receive a free appropriate public education until the end of the school year in which the student turns twenty-one (21) or until receipt of a regular high school diploma. Since David is eligible to receive a regular high school diploma this June, as soon as he does so, he is no longer eligible for services from your school district. You might explore what if any services he can receive from VESID, but it is highly unlikely that he will receive funding for this program.  (www.vesid.nysed.gov)

This question opens a larger issue and one that continues to haunt parents – WHAT DO YOU DO AFTER HIGH SCHOOL?  The first publication of my career was in 1982 when I co-authored and published a book with that exact title.  It was a parent handbook of programs and services for the learning disabled.  The book was revised in 1984 and again in 1986.  I stopped working on it when I went to law school.  The times have certainly changed and post high school opportunities are as varied as the students they serve.  All of the private special education schools consult with parents about ex-missions and the network of special college programs and independent living programs continues to grow.  As the autistic population ages the need for group homes and supervised living arrangements grows.  These programs are harder to find and to gain entry to.  They are usually under the auspices of Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (www.opwdd.ny.gov).

I am happy to answer questions like these both in your emails and as blog postings.





March 11th, 2011

When children leave the federal program of Early Intervention (E.I.) by virtue of their age, their parents are often faced problems concerning eligibility, services and programs recommended by their CPSE.  Below is a question from a client with just that issue:

“Our child is in Early Intervention (E.I.) as a result of her having a complex congenital syndrome.  She receives wonderful services and has an effective and busy home program with providers that we are very pleased with.  We are seeing real progress.  She turns three in May and ages out of the E.I. and has to enter CPSE.  We have learned through our E.I. service coordinator that our school district and the CPSE administrator assigned to our case is going to recommend that our daughter be placed in a center based program without any home services.  We strongly disagree with this. Is there such a thing as “pendency” for Early Intervention so that she can stay in EI for another year while we fight the CPSE?”

This is a complicated question that deals with eligibility, conflicts between school districts and something known as pendency.

For those of you that are not familiar with the term pendency it’s a stay put provision invoked and ordered when a parent (usually through their attorney) files for a due process/impartial hearing.  Simply put: During the course of the pending hearing and any subsequent appeal the child shall remain in his or her last agreed to placement (IEP).

The rules defining when a child ages out of the EI program are clear and governed by public health law.  A child ages out of E.I. on his or her third birthday, unless the child receiving EI services has been referred to the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) and determined to be eligible for preschool special education programs.  In these instances the child can continue to receive early intervention services if requested by the parent(s), but only as follows:

  • Children, who turn three years of age between January 1st and August 31, are eligible to continue receiving early intervention services until September 1st of that calendar year;
  • Children who turn three years of age between September 1st and December 31st are eligible to continue receiving early intervention services until January 2nd of the following calendar year.

There are absolutely no further extensions of E.I. services.  Sometimes a parent will argue a premature birth, but this does not apply only the actual recorded birth date governs.


March 11th, 2011

evening presentation

6:00p.m. to 7:45 p.m
At The
Grand Room
Located at the NY Open Center*
22 East 30th Street (between Madison and 5th)

The following topics will be covered:
CPSE vs. CSE: a whole new ball game (classifications, program recommendations, related services)
PRIVATE SCHOOL PLACEMENT: how to maximize your chances of funding or reimbursement
PENDENCY: it is NOT a placement option, but is the “last agreed to placement” during the “pendency” of a legal proceeding
IMPARTIAL HEARING PROCESS: the nuts and bolts of filing for an impartial hearing and how to best prepare for the best chances of winning

Please RSVP by email to:cvientos@skyerlaw.com
‘”This event is not affiliated with the NY Open Center

Understanding The Special Education Law

February 21st, 2011

Skyer Law Case LawThis blog will be a quick intro into understanding the legal framework for protecting the rights of children with special education needs.   When we use the term law we are really referring to three areas or bodies of law:  The first is called Statutory Law. This is sometimes referred to as “black letter law”, it specifically refers to statutes and codes (laws) that are enacted by legislative bodies.  In the field of Education Law this refers specifically to the Individuals with Disability Education Act; the American’s with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, along with the corresponding codes of federal regulations for each of these.

The second area is referred to as Regulatory Law which consists of the regulations required by agencies based on statutes.  In New York State this consists of the Commissioner’s Regulations and in New York City it consists of the Chancellor’s Regulations.

The third area is something known as Common Law or Case Law.  This refers to the rulings in trials and hearings which are not appealed and are published or reported.  Case Law makes new interpretation of the law and is cited as precedents.  For case law we also mean the New York State Review Officer’s decisions as well as applicable cases in federal or state courts. Visit the Case Law section of our website for descriptions of the most important cases in our field.