Hearing delays continue regarding special education services

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2021 | Education Law |

In New York City, parents send their children to school with the expectation that the proper services will be provided. This is critically important for all students regardless of their age and other specific needs. However, if the child has special needs, delays can be problematic. To make matters worse, hearings are often delayed. It is vital that complaints are heard rapidly and problems are solved. Unfortunately, if various obstacles prevent the complaints from even being heard, parents should be cognizant of their legal options. This is especially true given the difficult circumstances society is facing and how it is impacting schools.

Lack of hearing officers creates backlog in solving special education problems

The state education department says that there are approximately 9,400 complaints about special education issues waiting to be heard. This is happening while almost 30% of hearing officers are not working on cases. This has led to the state wanting to implement a requirement that these officers take cases or face a threat to their certification. These complaints arise if a parent says their disabled child is not receiving services he or she is supposed to receive. The lack of hearings can leave children without these services indefinitely.

After the first week in November, there were more than 16,300 open case. This is one-third more than there were from 2019 to 2020. More than 9,000 were not even assigned to an officer. Some have been unassigned since early in the year. To deal with the problem, new hearing officers are being recruited. Some ideas that have been floated include requiring experienced officers to take a minimum of 35 cases per year. The maximum would be 500. New officers would not be subject to the minimum in the first year on the job. Federal law says that cases must be resolved within 75 days. It is taking far longer in New York with the city said to have ignored the federal laws for 13 years.

Parents should have guidance with education law issues

It is undeniably frustrating for parents who are expecting the city to provide necessary services to their children only to find them lacking. Going through the proper channels with the education department might seem to be the obvious strategy, but it can be ineffective. To get results for any special education law issue, having professional guidance could be a wise step. Consulting with those who are experienced in education matters can be essential to achieving a positive result and helping a child get what he or she is entitled to.