A federal district judge has approved a settlement agreement between the education department and disability rights advocates in the Bronx, resolving a four-year-old lawsuit that challenged the city’s process for allocating certain special education services.
The settlement, in effect for three years, requires the education department to make a series of changes to the way it provides what are called “related services,” which include occupational therapy and mental health counseling, among other supports for students with disabilities.
Many schools do not have enough on-site staff to provide these services to all the students who are entitled to them. When that happens, schools can give parents a voucher to cover the cost of the service. But a number of barriers prevent parents from using vouchers. Families sometimes struggle to find providers willing to travel to their neighborhoods, for example, and many providers are simply unresponsive or not taking on more clients.
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