Important Reminder for Parents of Children Born in 2014: The NYC Kindergarten Registration Deadline is Monday, January 14th

Last fall, the NYC Department of Education’s Special Education Office mailed a kindergarten ‘Welcome Packet’ to parents of children currently receiving preschool special education (CPSE) services who will be “turning five” during the 2019 calendar year.

The information in the packet makes clear that the DOE expects parents to engage with two processes: applying to kindergarten through the regular NYC application process and engaging in the Turning Five IEP process. In short, the DOE asks parents to apply to a local public school for a general education seat regardless of whether or not you feel that your child’s needs could ever be met in that program.

There are 3 ways to apply for a kindergarten seat at your community school before the January 14th deadline:

  1. Online at MySchools

  2. Over the phone by calling 718-935-2009

  3. In person at a Family Welcome Center

According to the DOE, you should receive your “blue Notice of Referral” to begin the special education (Turning Five) process anytime between January and July of this year.

Taking on Delays in Reimbursement and Pendency Payments in 2019

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We are living through unprecedented times in our dealings with the NYC Department of Education. 

The process of suing for tuition reimbursement has always moved slowly. But in the past few years, the wheels of the bureaucracy have seemed to calcify. From start to finish it can now take up to two years for a parent to see any reimbursement on a settlement for tuition. And pendency orders, which should be paid out each month, are sometimes going unpaid for 6 months and longer.

These endemic, chronic delays represent the most dramatic change in practice that we have experienced in over a decade. Parents who are newer to this process may not realize that during Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure, the entire settlement process was generally completed within 9 months.

In 2014, Mayor De Blasio announced his Special Education Initiative, which resulted in immediate improvements in more cases being recommended for settlement (avoiding the risk of an Impartial Hearing), and in the DOE offering higher dollar amounts—all welcome, positive changes.

But these improvements have been completely overshadowed by the delays in repayment. If you can’t afford to front two years of tuition, it hardly matters what dollar amount the settlement is. The basic math of this is why these delays have a particularly cruel impact on struggling middle class families.

Our lawyers and paralegals spend part of each and every day hounding the DOE for updates on all of our cases. We have also been in contact with the senior supervisors at the DOE, with the Office of General Counsel at the DOE, and at the Comptroller’s Office.

But we know it’s not enough.

This year, we are focusing our external advocacy efforts on the issue of delays in settlement reimbursements and pendency payments. We have written to our allies in the City Council about this issue, and have begun to educate members of the City Council Education Committee.

We want you, our clients, to be empowered to also take action, and recently we have seen evidence that contacting your local City Council Member for help with your individual case is a strategy worth pursuing. This strategy has the added bonus of serving as a specific case study to your representative as we pursue policy changes on the macro level.

While your Council Member cannot do anything before your case has settled, it is perfectly appropriate for them to make inquiries when money owed to their constituents is unreasonably delayed due to the inefficiencies of a City agency. Hopefully, your Council Member is willing to help.

When you call, provide your name and address to demonstrate that you are a constituent, and then ask the Council Member to contact the City and resolve the issue (i.e. ask the City to pay you/the school/the provider the money owed). The Council Member will need information and/or documents from you to do this effectively. What they need will vary based on your particular situation.  

Scenario 1: Your case has settled, you have an “executed stipulation,” and now more than a few months have passed with no money back.

Your Council Member will need a copy of your executed stipulation. An “executed stipulation” (often casually referred to as a “stip”) is an agreement for settlement that you have signed and that the DOE has counter-signed. If you do not have a copy, ask your paralegal or attorney for a copy.

Scenario 2: Your case has settled, you have signed the stipulation, but the DOE has not counter-signed it in a timely manner.

The settlement you agreed to is either waiting for Comptroller review or the assigned DOE lawyer hasn’t sent it to the Comptroller’s Office. Ask your paralegal or attorney for the current status of your case.

When you call your Council Member, also provide them with your child’s name, student ID (OSIS) number, date of birth, and your case’s TDN (ten day notice) number or IHO (impartial hearing office) number (you will only have one of these numbers). If you do not know your TDN or IHO number, ask your paralegal or attorney for it.

Scenario 3: You have a pendency order, but the DOE is behind on payments.

The DOE is supposed to pay out the services agreed to under a pendency order every month. About 45 days after the required documents (which may include contracts, attendance records, invoices, and affidavits) have been submitted, it’s reasonable to consider a pendency payment late.  

When you call your Council Member, provide them with a copy of the IHO order you received in the mail. If you do not have it anymore, ask your paralegal or attorney for a copy.

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Not sure who your City Council Member is or how to contact them? You can look them up using your street address on the City Council website.

Dr. Stephen Shore to Speak at Skyer Law Autism Conference Dec. 14th

Our December 14th conference, Autism & Education in New York City, will feature a keynote address by Dr. Stephen Shorea professor of Special Education at Adelphi University and the author of many highly regarded books on autism and education. Dr. Shore is also an autistic self-advocate. Every parent of a child with autism—young or older—should hear Dr. Shore speak. He is a memorable speaker, equal parts informative and inspiring, who has a gift for illuminating the experience of autism to parents and educators—with an eye to a child’s education planning.

Here is a description of his keynote:

LIFE ON AND SLIGHTLY TO THE RIGHT OF THE AUTISM SPECTRUM: AN INSIDE VIEW TOWARDS SUCCESS

Join Dr. Stephen Shore on an autobiographical journey beginning with his early nonverbal days as he relates his life to the many challenges facing people on the autism spectrum.  Some of the areas he will discuss include classroom accommodations, teaching musical instruments, and what he terms “The Hidden Curriculum.” He will also discuss the challenges faced by young adults and adults in regards to relationships, self-advocacy, higher education, and employment.  The talk includes an audience activity that helps to demonstrate what it feels like have autism and to struggle through some of the challenges surrounding communication and socialization.

About STEPHEN SHORE:

Diagnosed with "Atypical Development and strong autistic tendencies" and labeled as "too sick" for outpatient treatment, Dr. Shore was recommended for institutionalization as a child. Nonverbal until four, and with much support from his parents, teachers, wife, and others, he is now a professor at Adelphi University where his research focuses on matching best practices to the needs of people with autism.

In addition to working with children and talking about life on the autism spectrum, Stephen is internationally renowned for presentations, consultations, and writings on lifespan issues pertinent to education, relationships, employment, advocacy, and disclosure. His most recent book College for Students with Disabilities combines personal stories and research for promoting success in higher education.

A current board member of Autism Speaks, president emeritus of the Asperger's Association of New England, and advisory board member of the Autism Society, Dr. Shore serves on the boards of the Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism AssociationThe US Autism and Asperger Association, the Scientific Counsel of OAR, and other autism related organizations.

Learn more about Dr. Shore, his work, and his published works at www.autismasperger.net.

We are honored to announce the list of distinguished speakers who will speak on the above four panels, representing many of the finest clinicians, experts, programs, and schools in New York:

Chantal Aflalo (educational consultant), Michael Boardman (ABA supervisor, NYLEL Lifestart), Allison Graham Brown (Director of Professional Development, NYU ASD Nest Support Project), Dr. Jennifer Cross (developmental and behavioral pediatrician, New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center), Dr. Rebecca Doggett (Clinical Director, ASD Service at NYU Child Study Center), Michelle Finkelman (Director, Harlem Center for Child Development), Dr. Iris Fishman (Director, Speech-Language-Hearing Disorders Clinic at the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders at NYU), Lauren Gallo (Director of College Placement & Transition Planning, Winston Prep), Dr. Amy Davies Lackey (Education Director, Manhattan Childrens Center), Dr. Cecelia McCarton (developmental pediatrician; founder, The McCarton Center), Tina McCourt (Director, Rebecca School), Margaret Poggi (Head of School, LearningSpring), Julie Russell (Educational Director, Brooklyn Autism Center), Dr. Francis Tabone (Head of School, Cooke), Dr. Laura Tagliareni (neuropsychologist, Pediatric Assessment Learning & Support), Dr. Susan M. Vener (Director, New York Child Learning Institute)

The conference will held on December 14th, from 8:45am-2:15pm at the Forchelli Center at Brooklyn Law School, 205 State Street, 22nd Floor. Registration is $35 and includes lunch. (If you cannot afford this registration fee there are scholarships still available; please contact Eliyanna Kaiser.)

 

A Thanksgiving Message from Regina Skyer

Sitting in my warm sunny kitchen this morning before the crowd arrives, alone and in utter silence, I began to think about what I am most thankful for this year.

I am thankful that I have always been surrounded by family and close friends that love me and who I love, in spite of our having differences of opinion or style or belief.

I am thankful for my good health, which enables me to continue to do the work that I love and feel passionate about. Fighting for the educational rights of children is the way I’ve chosen to make the world a better place.

I am thankful that I live in the United States where I can be outspoken about my disdain for many of our current political leaders; where I never have to be silent in the face of wrongdoing; and where I can still feel safe and protected by the fundamental rights and freedoms that I try not to take for granted.

I am thankful that the whole world was outraged by the murder of my fellow Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue. That outrage gives me hope for humanity’s future. 

Most of all, I am thankful for my inner strength, my moral compass, my sense of humor, and the very fact that I am hopeful and optimistic.

Sending all of you my sincere thanks from my warm sunny kitchen this Thanksgiving day. Hug your loved ones close—and eat too much turkey.

-Regina Skyer