NY judge tosses lawsuit for students with disabilities seeking services lost during the pandemic

NY judge tosses lawsuit for students with disabilities seeking services lost during the pandemic

A federal judge dismissed a class action lawsuit this week that attempted to force the city’s education department to fast-track makeup services for students with disabilities in response to pandemic-related disruptions.

The lawsuit, filed in November 2020 by the nonprofit Advocates for Children, claimed that tens of thousands of students with disabilities missed crucial services and instruction after the city’s school buildings shut down. In the immediate aftermath of the pandemic, city officials struggled to provide functional remote learning devices for every student, leaving some without access to instruction. Some services such as physical therapy were extremely difficult to deliver virtually.

Students with disabilities have a right to “compensatory services” if their school doesn’t provide the specialized instruction or therapies listed on their Individualized Education Program or IEP. But the process for seeking those makeup services in New York City has faced extreme backlogs, with cases often taking hundreds of days to resolve despite the legal limit of 75 days. In its lawsuit, Advocates for Children argued the city should create a streamlined process due to the urgent need for makeup services.

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