June 19, 2014

Speaker Silver Announces Agreement with Mayor de Blasio on Placement of Special Needs Children in Private Schools

Families with special needs children face a multitude of challenges including finding the right fit for their children's education. We must do all we can to remove barriers and give these children an equal opportunity to succeed. While federal law requires school districts to pay private school tuition for special needs children if it is deemed the most appropriate placement, for too long New York City has refused to pay or has dragged out legal proceedings challenging these placements. Meanwhile children are denied their fundamental right to a sound education and parents must shell out thousands of dollars to either pay tuition or challenge these decisions.

While the Assembly has passed legislation in previous years to address this issue, I have spoken with Mayor de Blasio and he has pledged to make administrative changes to end this practice and implement a system that is fairer to families beginning in the upcoming school year. To be clear, the Assembly stands ready to act on legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein if the New York City Department of Education fails to act as promised, however we believe administrative steps would be more effective and likely better serve families. I am pleased that Mayor de Blasio has recognized this issue and I look forward to working with him to ensure that children are able to realize their full potential.

More details regarding these administrative changes will be released next week.