School Choice & Charters

Hundreds of N.Y.C. Private School Students Left Without Special Education Services

By Christina A. Samuels — September 16, 2014 1 min read
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About 450 Catholic students on Staten Island are not receiving the speech, occupational, or tutoring services that are written into their individualized education programs, and the problem is being blamed on a paperwork backlog at the New York City Department of Education, the Staten Island Advance is reporting.

Public school districts are responsible for providing special education services to the eligible students who attend private schools located within their boundaries, regardless of where those children might live, a change that came with the 2004 reauthorization of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Prior to that revision, school districts were only responsible for providing services to students within their boundaries.

A parent told the newspaper that the 1-million student New York City district was having computer problems as well. From the article:

One parent, Camille Polizzi of Oakwood, said her son, 14, and daughter, 9, who attend St. Joseph by-the-Sea and St. Charles School, respectively, have been without speech and tutoring required under their Individualized Education Plan (I.E.P.) since the first day of school. Mrs. Polizzi said her son and daughter both receive tutoring after school for a learning disabilty, and her daughter also receives speech therapy during the school day. The DOE often contracts with outside providers to serve parochial and private school students. "I called and called and called DOE, and was told they were backlogged with paperwork and were having computer problems, and that they couldn't tell me when services would be restored," she said. "Somehow, though, they managed to get things up and running the first day in the public schools ... That's just not acceptable," she added.

Carmen Fariña , who was appointed chancellor of the school system in December 2013, made improvement of special education a “personal priority” during a stint as deputy chancellor from 2004 to 2006, according to a press release from the city.

A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.