DOE Considering Multi-Year Settlement Agreements

Earlier this week, the NYC DOE’s Office of General Counsel advised our office that some parents will have the option of entering into a three-year renewable settlement agreement with the NYC DOE. As many of you may recall, Mayor de Blasio’s 2014 Special Education Initiative that started the “Fast Track” settlement process also included the prospect of multi-year settlements.

But don’t get too excited yet. Thus far, the proposal from the DOE is not favorable to parents. In fact, the current proposed language significantly weakens a parent’s position in settlement. The DOE does not appear to be committing to paying out for years two and three at the time of the agreement, rather, they’re setting a cap on the amount they’ll reimburse for years two and three if the IEP remains the same and if the DOE has reason to settle the case.

In other words, the language of the proposed agreement forces parents to commit to a maximum dollar amount in reimbursement, but relieves the District of its responsibility to pay if certain conditions are not met. Additionally, because parents remain obligated to file Ten Day Notices each year, a multi-year settlement under the DOE’s current proposal requires that parents continue to be in an adversarial position with the DOE.

We will continue to communicate with the Office of General Counsel to determine whether equitable multi-year settlements are a possibility.