Councilmember Brannan Introduces Bill for Interest Free Loans for Special Needs Tuition

By Hamodia Staff

New York City Councilmember Justin Brannan.

NEW YORK – New York City Councilmember Justin Brannan (D-Brooklyn) took a major first step to solve a crisis plaguing families of students with special needs by introducing legislation that will provide loans to cover tuition costs while eligible schools await reimbursement payments from the city.

According to federal law, parents and guardians may place their children in independent schools if the government is not able to offer a fair and appropriate education in a public institution. Under a system first launched in the de Blasio administration, the city committed to working with families whose children with disabilities are best met in independent schools, with tuition reimbursed by the City’s Department of Education. However, long and costly delays have undermined the program, and only two percent of all students with disabilities benefited from its tuition reimbursements in 2019.

The bill by Councilmember Brannan significantly eases the financial burden on schools serving students with disabilities. It offers interest-free loans for eligible schools, as long as they are repaid in a timely manner. The legislation also includes measures to ensure oversight of schools participating in the program. This will provide immediate relief to schools and families while advocates work with the administration to fix the broken reimbursement process.

“Finally, there is relief in sight for a problem that has plagued our education system for too many years. We are activating our members and partners to support this bill – it’s a major first step in shattering the logjam and giving every student in New York the opportunity to thrive. Thank you, Councilmember Brannan for leading this fight,” said Sydney Altfield, Executive Director of Teach NYS, a project of the Orthodox Union.

“As a parent of a special needs child, this bill is a lifeline. Our family has struggled to place our child in school that fulfills the promise of an adequate education that is required under the law. Mountains of paperwork and endless delays makes the reimbursement process for families like ours a living nightmare,” said Devora Spielman, parent of a student at IVDU School for Special Education.

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