Legal Aid Society


LAS Calls for Sensible Solutions to Tackle Backlog of Special Education Cases

The Legal Aid Society applauded a change of direction made Monday by state officials in shelving a controversial proposal that would have allowed non-lawyers to oversee special education complaints in New York City, as reported by Chalkbeat New York.

The abandoned proposal – ostensibly part of an effort to speed up the resolution of an expanding backlog of special education cases – was criticized by education advocates, who feared that permitting non-lawyers to resolve these cases could lead to errors that would invite lengthy appeals, among other potential issues.

A more sensible solution to the problem, said Cara Chambers, Director of the Education Advocacy Project at The Legal Aid Society, would be for the city to opt more frequently for mediations and settlements to avoid the lengthy hearing process for families, as well as to expand and improve conditions at the Hearing Office, which would allow a greater number of hearings to proceed, and eliminate countless hours of wasted time as people wait for available hearing spaces.

This year, the state education department is requiring the city, which is on a state compliance plan, to increase mediations by 20%.