For the entire month of August and these early days of September the paralegals and lawyers at our offices have been hounding and chasing the New York City Department of Education to get our parents the tuition reimbursement payments they are entitled to. Talk about a frustrating experience!
There are never simple solutions or answers to complicated problems, and this certainly holds true when dealing with a limping bureaucracy that is responsible for over 1.1 million students and a budget of $26+ billion dollars.
So here’s what is being told to us and what we believe is happening.
For those of you with signed stipulations you are on the queue for payment. As frustrating as it is, our answer is that it’s just a matter of time until you receive the agreed to monies. Think of yourselves as standing on a line with thousands before and thousands after you. Once the DOE makes a partial payment they take the file and place it on the back of the line, rather than keep it open and having it ready for the final payment. There is no doubt that you will get your payments - it’s just the wait. We are repeatedly told by the DOE that this is civil litigation and getting the city to pay on a claim within 18 months is the fastest that they ever pay. The crux of the problem is that the Mayor has promised otherwise, and we all believed that promise.
Additionally, we are told by DOE administration that the department that actually cuts the checks was short staffed over the summer and could not keep up with the volume of work. They have re-deployed people from other departments to assist but this has not helped. We are hoping that now that everyone is back from summer vacation the monies will flow faster. Our bookkeeper Frank Rivera is now working overtime to process paymentsthe day they come in. We call and write to the DOE every single day, we have not forgotten about you.
For those of you still awaiting Comptroller approval for the signature on a stipulation, we are reviewing each file and assessing the risk involved in putting the case back on the calendar for an actual hearing. The battle between the Comptroller and the Mayor is no doubt a political battle, with the ultimate question of , “Who are you going to vote for next year?” A Mayor who makes hollow promises or a Comptroller that believes the Mayor has given away too much money?