The Department of Education has failed to pay hundreds of employees for special education tutoring and classroom support services provided since the school year began. Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn) has called on the DOE to immediately resolve outstanding payment claims with all tutors and classroom assistants they contract with.
Over the past few months, the councilman has heard from over a dozen local residents who have not been paid for services they have provided this school year, and from parents concerned about disruptions to their child’s education.
“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,” said Greenfield, urging the DOE to keep in mind what is at stake and get to the bottom of the 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.
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 current, definitive information from the DOE about the new billing process.
One local special education provider who has not been fully paid is Aviva Levy of Flatbush, who had contracted with the DOE for three years without a problem until this year. So far, she has received only partial payment in December for services rendered in September, and has not received any payments since.
She has been forced to spend thousands of dollars out-of-pocket to cover expenses such as materials and books. And, 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.
“To have employees not getting paid for weeks or months is embarrassing for the Department of Education. 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,” stated Councilman Greenfield.