Tuesday, June 09, 2015
The East Ramapo school district has lost another round in its fight against the state over placement decisions for special education students.
In a ruling late last week, a state appellate court in Albany upheld the Education Department's determination that the district violated special education law by settling too readily with parents who wanted their children placed in private religious schools.
A district spokesman said officials have not decided whether to appeal. School board President Yehuda Weissmandl said they will continue to work toward a resolution of the issues.
"East Ramapo has had a number of principled disagreements with the state over how best to provide special education services," Weissmandl said in a statement. "We've made tremendous progress in resolving these disputes, but there are some outstanding issues."
Special education placements are one of many controversies plaguing the district, which is also fighting a bill in Albany that would require the appointment of a monitor who could override school board decisions.
Many ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic parents in the district have challenged special education placements in the public schools and argued their children should be sent to Yiddish-language programs outside the district. The district often settles the cases and the state Education Department has cited the district several times for violating special education law with its placements.
There are about 2,200 special education students in the district.
The district has argued it costs no more to place students in private schools that accommodate the students' cultural and language preferences. Instead, fighting the requests would have cost tens of thousands of dollars — or sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars — per case, Weissmandl has said. In 2013, the district settled 21 out of 27 complaints, he said.
Thursday's ruling by a three-judge panel in the Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department, said the district did not have the right to challenge the state's power to enforce the laws.
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