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Tuition Reimbursement Problems

So, the state settled our annual reimbursement fight.  Except the paper work has been sitting on someone's desk and we haven't got our reimbursement check.  Our advocate is still trying to get them to sign off on earlier settlements made to other clients this year.  NYC and Albany happily tax us - we propose a deal - they can have our taxes - minus his tuition.  Then we wouldn't be charged interest for having to take out student loans for the 50K because they don't want to sign a settlement that they agreed to.  Our only option is taking them back to court when they have already admitted that they can not provide him with an education.  NYC has a program for Asperger's.  With 1.5 million students they have alloted 32 slots for HFA's and Aspergers who are able to handle a general school curriculum.  Amazing, how all those slots have filled so quickly.  So basically if you have a bright kid with HFA or Aspergers you are supposed to send them to a school of severely autistic kids or a self-contained classroom with children who have severe learning disabilities.  Neither are appropriate placements so you tend to win the case but they don't send the check until you sue them again and again.  

Next year is even a better solution - we are going straight to IEP trial.  This will cost the tax payer 40K more - and we will get the tuition check within 30 days.  They will also be in pendency which basically means a second free year for us.  We should have gone all the way this year - but the Board of Ed promised it would be different.  It is funny how you just don't trust them anymore.
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470168 tn?1237471245
Did you get the Board of Eds promise in writing??
I think all state employees have delusions of grandeur.  My son's previous Ed Psych promised me that if (when) the time came that we needed to move my son to a school with experience of teaching children with autism, that all she would have to do was make the phone call.  So when I called in that promise and she made the phone call, she got told (like I did), that there were no places left.  
She then informed the educational authority that in her opinion my son needed to be in an autism only unit.  Again they didn't listen to her opinion.  When I asked her how the local authority could disregard the opinion of the professionals they had appointed to advise them - she laughed!! (somewhat nervously).  And they wonder why we don't trust them??? Thankfully, during all of these exchanges I had someone present to act as minute taker and witness to everything that was said and done.  That turned out to be very useful as she was also a council employee whose department is to support parents going through the eductional process of special needs.  They don't have any real teeth, but they make excellent minute takers and can confirm events as they happened.  So every time the educational department has denied or contradicted what they said or did I have had the proof in writing that my interpretation of events is the correct one.
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Avatar universal
We had a signed settlement with DOE lawyers 9this is not an IEP issue) - just like last year.  They paid off all those that were signed in September - just nothing came after.  Last year, they had a new tactic - those that paid the tuition by wire didn't have cancelled checks for the reimbursements so they needed to go back to the banks for a verified wire transfer to the schools (because the original confirmations were not good enough) - this happened to about 5 people we know.  This delayed the reimbursements another three months.  We are not stupid.  We have a lawyer.  My husband is a lawyer - when people don't keep contracts you can bring them back to court under "bad faith" clauses - but that starts the whole IEP Hearing process all over.  They are just delaying payments.

The situation is getting worse.  NYC has no programs for Aspergers - just for severely autistic children.  32 lucky kids get the ASD NEST program which has a 200 person wait list.  If your child cna handle the general curriculm they have no place to put them - so they give you a latter that tells you to find a private school.  5500 kids in NYC get this letter.  If you go to a state contracted school (most of them are set up for children with learning disabilities and not behavioral ones) you don't have to pay.  They are private and usually are not that interested in a child on the spectrum.  There are about 1800 slots in these schools with the rest being non-contracted.  If it isn't a contracted school you have to go to a hearing - regardless of what your IEP says.  Usually, everyone settles before the hearing and you get a reimbursement check.  They have just gotten creative about delaying paymentduring the last two years.

It gets better.  Most of the ASD schools demand the tuition upfront.  They cost anywhere from 50K-70K a year.  Most families usually do a bridge loan to swing it while they wait for the check.  Key Bank was the main providers of these special ed loans.  They, and everyone else, is out for elementary school special ed loans.  Key Bank announced that they are getting out of that business.  Parents can take a short term loan - but usually the first year they took longer ones because they were already tapped out paying for the lawyers and initial evaluations (about 20K) going in.  Fine, if your husband is a NYC banker or lawyer and could float the 80K during that first year, but few people can.  Obviously, financing to get your foot in the door is going to be a big worry.  Sallie Mae is still providing these lans but only for state contracted schools - which are generally not for ASD children.  

My husband wished that the special ed lawyers in the city would unite and not agree to sign anymore settlements unless they stop playing these games.  He is predicting another class action suit against the Board of Ed.  You can make them sign anything you want but it doesn't seem to inspire them to pick up a pen and send you a check.  

Next year, my husband is going to be a bit nastier.  He told me that he is not adjourned the IEP hearing date unless he has a signed settlement presented with a check.  The IEP judge has 30 days to present you a check if you win.  Even though it takes 6 months to get through it all - it is better than wondering when Albany will send a check.  At this point, what s another 40K (the average IEP hearing in NYC) added to the taxpayers bill.  

P.S.  the city has never been able to even come up with a placement for my son - ever.    
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325405 tn?1262290178
Have you gotten your state representative or senator involved in this matter?  Politicicians like to help parents with this sort of thing because it makes them look better.  Another group to get involved is the media.  Governments look really embarrassed when the local TV network does an expose on things like that.  Problem is, they have to be interested to take your story.  Autism seems to be such in the spotlight lately though.  Not sure if that would embarrass your son, though, with his friends.
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Avatar universal
The point I was trying to make is that the whole system us NYCers have cobbled together is about to collapse.  Key Bank was the linchpin that kept it together for most of the families.  Most families do not get full reimbursement.  THe state settles.  We get funded at 97% but alot of people take the 50%-75% funding rather than get nothing at all.   Appeals can take years and the state threatens them with it.  They usually have to get a student loan (at least during the first year) to tide them overas going to IEP costs about 20K (and trust me, the lawyers call you up to settle at 4:45 on Friday before your court date) .  The parents rely on student loan system to get them through.

Most of the people on this board, from what I can tell, don't go to IEP hearings.  They are incredible heart wrenching and time consuming (not to mention that they really try a family's finances).  I have told many people to try to work with their school district as long as possible because fighting them in court is nasty business.

For instance, this year NYC decided to contract private behaviora aides.  even though it was in many of the students' IEP's in my son's school they didn't show up until December this year.  My son didn't have an aide but he kept telling me about all the children who were sent home until the aide arrived (and in most Asperger's schools contracts a parent must be available at all times).  Two students in his class had to stay home for more than a month as the DOE kept saying to deal with new company about their staffing issues.  Before that, the DOE gave a check to the school who hired their own aides. Most of the aides were certified teachers deciding whether or not they were going to go into working with the autisitic.  So not only did the quality of the aide got down, but the kids lost a month at school.  Since the entire school system is under mayoral control there is nothing that parents can do - except go back to IEP hearing

So this is how it will now go down - everyone is going to ask for an IEP hearing (for meergeny reimbursement) and the IEP judge dockets are going to be jammed.  And, according to my advocate, if you get a good judge you wait in line.  You would rather wait six to eight months than have your case dismissed as most appeals don't work (for either side).

We are the loudest, nastiest set of parents you ever met.  But even my husband, the white shoe lawyer who is not terrified of legal proceedings, knows when you have to back off.  we have the finances to play this game - but most of the parents at these schools don't.  
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