The Public Advocate’s office filed a lawsuit against the city Department of Education earlier this week, claiming the agency has failed to meet the needs of its students with disabilities, which has resulted in a loss in Medicaid revenue for the city.
More than 47,300 students from Queens with disabilities were enrolled in public school during the 2014-2015 school year, according to DOE demographic data. That number has grown significantly, from about 42,700 in the 2010-2011 school year, according to the same data set.
The suit, which was filed with State Supreme Court in Manhattan, asks for a judicial inquiry leading to a plan to address neglect to the education system’s growing disabled student population, Public Advocate Letitia James said.
James accuses DOE’s Special Education Student Information System—intended to establish and track data from the Individual Education Programs, or IEPs, of students with disabilities to ensure compliance with state and federal requirements—of failing to do that.
Requests by the public advocate and the Independent Budget Office for IEP data have been denied by the DOE.
James said failure to collect proper data, using a system which has cost the city $130 million since 2009, is a failure both on the behalf of taxpayers and on the behalf of children with disabilities, who could have benefited from services implemented with the use of such data.
The public advocate also said the city has missed out on millions of dollars in Medicaid revenue by not meeting state and federal mandates.
“DOE has failed our children with disabilities for decades—ignoring pleas of parents, students and teachers—so we are taking them to court,” James said in a statement. “We will never stop fighting for our children in need to get every opportunity they deserve.”
~ Tom Momberg
©2016 Community News Group
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