On July 27, 2017, DRA filed a class action lawsuit against the New
York City Department of Education (“DOE”), the City of New York, and DOE
Chancellor Carmen Fariña, in her official capacity, alleging violations
of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and other
anti-discrimination laws on behalf of a class of students with
disabilities who attend school in the Bronx and are being denied
legally-mandated special education services.
If the New York City Department of Education cannot find providers
for related services that a student with a disability needs like
occupational therapy or speech therapy, it issues a “voucher” to parents
instead called Related Service Authorizations or RSAs. While typically
these services would be provided during the school day, the families of
children receiving these vouchers are left to fend for themselves, often
facing insurmountable obstacles related to limited transportation
options, inflexible work schedules, and language barriers. These
vouchers go unused at very high rates. In the Bronx, over 63% of the
vouchers are not used. The rates of usage are not much better across the
City generally as almost half of the over 9,000 vouchers issued in the
2015-2016 school year went unused.
DRA’s goal in this case is to ensure that the DOE develops and
implements a remedial plan that includes new practices, policies, and
procedures to ensure that all students in the Plaintiff Class receive
their related services."