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Friday, December 30, 2022

Questions about Special Ed in NYC Orthodox Schools

In The Politics of Autism, I write about special education and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. II also discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families

 Brian M. Rosenthal at NYT:
Less than a decade ago, New York City drastically changed the way it provided special education to thousands of children with disabilities.

State law requires cities to deliver those services to students in private schools, even if the government has to pay outside companies to do it. But for years, when parents asked, New York City officials resisted and called many of the requests unnecessary.

In 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio changed course. Responding to complaints, especially from Orthodox Jewish organizations, he ordered the city to start fast-tracking approvals.

The policy has made it easier for some children with disabilities to get specialized instruction, therapy and counseling. But in Orthodox Jewish religious schools, particularly in parts of the Hasidic community, the shift has also led to a windfall of government money for services that are sometimes not needed, or even provided, an examination by The New York Times has found.
Five hearing officers told The Times that in proceedings involving Hasidic children, some parents have not seemed to know what they were requesting, or why. In one case, a mother could not explain her son’s disability, records show.

The Chabad Girls Academy, a Hasidic yeshiva in Crown Heights, sent an email to one mother in 2020 that said her daughter would qualify for autism treatment and provided her with a sample prescription for the child’s doctor, according to a copy of the message obtained by The Times. “Please can you have her medical doctor write a prescription stating diagnosis of F84.0,” the email said. “This is what we need.”

The mother told The Times her child does not have autism.

A lawyer for the school, Jules Halpern, said the school never pressed to get any child diagnosed with autistic disorders. “Email exchanges with this parent or any other would clearly demonstrate a dedicated educator working diligently and completely in the interest of the student,” he said.