New York City Public Advocate Letitia James

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James

New York City's public advocate says school system fails to adequately serve students with disabilities

Letitia James has sued the city's Department of Education to bring about better services to the disabled

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James contends in a lawsuit that the city's Department of Education fails to track the needs of students with disabilities, which has resulted in a severe lack of services for these children and a major loss in Medicaid revenue for the city.

The lawsuit seeks a judicial inquiry that will compel the school system to disclose a plan to remedy the deficiencies in the schools' Special Education Student Information System (SESIS).

The public advocate's office says SESIS was developed in 2009 and has cost the city $130 million.

The intent of SESIS is to produce and track data about the Individual Education Programs (IEP) of students with disabilities and ensure compliance with federal and state reporting requirements. James contends that research and analysis conducted by her office shows that SESIS has not accomplished what it was intended to do.

James says the failure to collect proper data has led to a lack of services for children with disabilities and has deprived New York City of at hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid revenue.

“Failure of this system has not only let down our most vulnerable children, but also cheated our taxpayers,” says James. The school system "has failed our children with disabilities for decades—ignoring pleas of parents, students, and teachers—so we are taking them to court. We will never stop fighting for our children in need to get every opportunity they deserve.” 

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