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Thousands of New York City special ed students not receiving needed services, says DiNapoli

NEW YORK - The New York City Department of Education must improve the timeliness of its evaluations and placements of special education student applicants, according to a report released by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. The report also noted that the number of students who do not receive recommended support services, such as speech or physical therapy, doubled between 2003 and 2007.

The DiNapoli report showed that during the 2006-2007 school year, a monthly average of 4,549 students remained in an evaluation process for more than 30 school days, with more than 2,400 remaining for more than 60 days. In addition, a monthly average of 14,479 students were in the placement process for more than 60 school days with more than half of those students remaining in the process for more than 80 days.

While the report notes that 55 percent of the cases in the placement process for more than 60 days were either the result of students not attending the program arranged for them or because parents did not respond to an offer of placement, 16 percent of those students remained in the process because the Department of Education never made an offer of services.

Under a consent decree issued in 1979, following a court ruling in the Jose P. v. Ambach federal lawsuit, the Department of Education is required to complete each new evaluation within 30 school days of receiving parental consent to evaluate or within 40 school days of receiving a request to evaluate. Under the decree, a student must then be offered appropriate services within 60 school days of receipt of parental consent to evaluate or within 70 school days of the request to evaluate.