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First Published Wednesday, 25th June, 2008.

Advocates for Children of New York

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kim Sweet,
212-822-9514
June 23, 2008
Groundbreaking Class Action Settlement for Students with Disabilities
Parents Have until June 30 to File Claims


New York City. Advocates for Children of New York announced today the groundbreaking settlement of a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of parents of students with disabilities in New York City’s public schools.

The lawsuit, filed in 2003, challenged the systemic failure of the New York City
Department of Education (DOE) to timely and fully implement orders of impartial hearing officers, who are independent officials assigned to resolve disputes over special education services. The lawsuit alleged that, as a result, students with disabilities were denied important and necessary educational services, including in some instances being excluded from school altogether. The lawsuit, L.V. et al. v. New York City Department of Education et al., was brought by Advocates for Children of New York and Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP.

Under the settlement agreement, the DOE agreed to comply with a series of benchmarks for implementation of orders going forward and that an Independent Auditor would monitor its compliance with the benchmarks.

Lysa Vanible, a Lead Plaintiff in the case and a parent of a child with a disability, stated,
“The settlement is designed to ensure that the DOE has an effective system to provide students with disabilities with the services that hearing officers find they need.” The settlement also provides compensation for students with disabilities who obtained favorable orders from an impartial hearing officer but whose orders were not fully and timely implemented by the DOE. Parents may obtain vouchers for up to $15,000 for educational services to compensate for the services that were denied, reimbursement for expenses they incurred because their orders were not implemented, or payments for services required by an order. Parents can use the vouchers from the settlement with a wide range of providers to obtain tutoring, career and vocational training, assistive technology, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and other educational services for their children. Parents may also make a request to the Independent Auditor to use the voucher at a service provider they select if an alternate provider is more appropriate for their particular needs.

“The voucher provisions of the settlement provide an opportunity for parents to secure much needed educational services for their children – services that they can choose based on their children’s specific needs and circumstances – where the DOE failed to provide such services,” stated Shawn Morehead, Director of Litigation at Advocates for Children of New York.

Parents of students with disabilities have until June 30, 2008 to file claims for educational services or repayment. Claim forms may be obtained at http://www.hearingordersettlement.com/ or by calling Advocates for Children at (212) 947-9779 x577. Parents or advocates may also contact Advocates for Children if they have any questions about completing the form.

For more information about the settlement, please visit:
http://www.hearingordersettlement.com/


Advocates for Children of New York:
http://www.advocatesforchildren.org/



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