We have reported to you extensively about our efforts to advocate for an end to the unacceptable delays in tuition reimbursement payments to our clients. When we last updated you, we reported that, at our request, City Council Education Committee Chair Daniel Dromm, along with Council Members Ben Kallos and Daniel Garodnick, sent a powerful letter to Mayor De Blasio, asking him to honor the commitments his administration made back in 2014 to special needs students and their families.
The Department of Education has now responded to the Council Members' letter, admitting that there have been problems and that there is room for further improvement. It's good to hear that the DOE is cognizant of this and we are hopeful that they will improve their process for 2017-18 based on this stated understanding. The full DOE response is embedded at the bottom of this article. (If you are reading this via our email list, you will need to visit our website to view the letter.)
In its letter, the DOE also made it clear that a significant factor contributing to delays is out of their direct control. Namely, they pointed to rules governing NYC Comptroller approval. Here is what they said:
As noted, as part of the settlement process in each case, DOE submits memoranda and supporting documentation to the New York City Comptroller in which it seeks settlement authority from the Comptroller. One of the challenges of the new process and its subsequent expansion had been a significant increase in the volume of requests to the Comptroller's office, in a concentrated period, resulting in lengthened review time. The Comptroller's office has since built administrative systems to speed up its review process. However, such systems have resulted in new, and more complex requirements that must be followed by the DOE.
We are very grateful to our elected officials for taking action on behalf of our client families. If you have a moment, particularly if you happen to be a constituent of Council Members Dromm (District 25, Queens), Kallos (District 5, Manhattan), or Garodnick (District 4, Manhattan), please take a moment to thank them for their efforts on behalf of New York's special education families.
We will continue to update you as we move forward with our advocacy efforts.