Pro Bono Client Granted Special Education Benefits

April 19, 2017

Cleary Gottlieb successfully settled a claim on April 19, 2017, brought against the New York City Department of Education (DOE) on behalf of a student diagnosed with learning disorders and impairments in reading, writing and math—and her mother for full tuition reimbursement for the 2016-2017 school year following Cleary’s filing of an impartial hearing requeston January 4, 2017.

The request alleged that the DOE failed to provide the client with a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) as required under state and federal law by failing to offer her a school placement and program that fit her needs.

During the 2013-2014 school year, after several delays in scheduling an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting for the client, her mother obtained a private evaluation for her conducted by Lenox Hill Hospital. The evaluation made clear that there was a substantial discrepancy between our client’s cognitive abilities and her academic performance, and that the DOE was not meeting her educational needs.

Even after receiving the evaluation that detailed our client’s needs, the DOE crafted an IEP with inappropriate programming and the wrong setting. Our client’s mother requested an impartial hearing on August 12, 2015, and agreed to mediation in an effort to work collaboratively with the DOE to address her educational needs.  Despite the resolution between the DOE and the client’s mother, which led to an agreement to withdraw the request for an impartial hearing, the DOE still did not provide her with a FAPE for the 2015-2016 school year. Instead, she was denied an appropriate education for an additional school year. The DOE’s chronic failure to meet her needs not only pushed her further behind academically, but also took a significant emotional and psychological toll on the client.

Following the successful settlement, our client’s mother will receive full reimbursement for the cost of tuition at a private school appropriate for her needs.