From the office of Councilman David Greenfield:
Councilman David G. Greenfield is blasting the New York City Department of Education for its failure to pay hundreds of employees for special education tutoring and classroom support services provided since the school year began. Councilman Greenfield is calling on the DOE to immediately resolve outstanding payment claims with all tutors and classroom assistants they contract with to ensure that no special needs students have their education impacted as a result of this dispute, and so that the providers can continue offering these critical services. Over the past few months, Councilman Greenfield has heard from over a dozen local residents who have not been paid by the DOE for services they have provided this school year, and from parents concerned about disruptions to their child’s education. Considering the vital services at stake, Councilman Greenfield is demanding that the DOE immediately pay these special education tutors, known professionally as P3 providers.
“It is shocking and downright unacceptable for the Department of Education to have so many unresolved payment issues with these dedicated special education providers. Unfortunately, it is the children who count on these individualized services that will lose out in this case, while at the same time these devoted providers are being taken advantage of. The DOE must keep in mind what is at stake here and get to the bottom of these serious complaints about lack of payment. We cannot afford to let this unnecessary and avoidable situation disrupt the education of thousands of special needs students,” said Councilman Greenfield.
The local special education providers who have not been fully paid for services dating back to September include Aviva Levy of Flatbush, who had contracted with the DOE for three years without a problem until this school year. So far, she has received only partial payment in December for services rendered in September, and has not received any payments since. This has forced her to spend thousands of dollars out-of-pocket to cover expenses such as materials and books. To make matters worse, she has not been able to contact anyone with the DOE in recent weeks to resolve this issue.
“In some cases, I have been working the whole year with zero payment. It is costing me money to work right now, even though I did everything I was asked to do. I feel bad for the parents, who are frustrated because they cannot get the services for their child, and we’re also frustrated,” said Aviva Levy.
According to complaints from special education providers who have contacted Councilman Greenfield, the problem arose when the DOE instituted a new billing and payment system used by tutors, without properly notifying providers of the new requirements. In the weeks and months since, many reported not being able to get up-to-date, definitive information from the DOE about the new billing process.
“To have employees not getting paid for weeks or months is embarrassing for the Department of Education, plain and simple. These are individuals who are dedicated to educating students with significant special needs, and should not have to spend their free time fighting for payment they are entitled to. I will continue to push this issue until every provider has been paid and no special needs child is in danger of losing these services,” concluded Councilman Greenfield.