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Thursday, July 16, 2020

Parent Activist Patrick Donohue Sues the NYC Department of Education For Neglecting Special Needs Kids During COVID-19

Patrick Donohue (Credit: Brigitte Stelzer)
Parents were furious with the NYC DOE way before the pandemic created a firestorm for special needs kids.

And this extreme frustration occurs nationwide.

Children with special needs must have supporting services and providers, often for every minute of the school day. The providers of these services - i.e. occupational and/or physical therapy, ABA, TEACCH, 1:1 paraprofessional, etc. - cannot and have not been effectively used or provided for the past 5 months (and decades), in schools throughout America. Often it is only after the parent(s) have spent every penny they have with paying for lawyers or tuitions for private schools, that the mandated services are given.

As a parent advocate who does Impartial Hearings, IEP review meetings, and anything else that  I need to do to get a child all the services and resources needed, I know what a culture of lies the NYC DOE promotes in order to not have to pay for the support these kids are mandated by law (U.S. Department of Education’s Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, "IDEA") to receive.

During COVID-19 there have been severe shortages of providers and thus service implementation of programs and resources to these kids.

Mr. Donohue is right to make a Big Thing about this.

If you believe you have a claim, see below for contact information:

National Class Action lawsuit to force the schools to reopen and provide services to students with special needs as well as compensate the parents for them doing the job of the school districts for the past five months (and the students getting compensatory services to make up for their missed services).

There are over 200 families that have already signed up from more than 20 states (and it is growing by the hour). Families can either go directly to the website to enroll: or call the toll-free hotline: 888-927-4332 (888-927-IDEA).


Alicia Alba <>

3:20 PM (48 minutes ago)
to me
Hi Betsy,

I am the parent coordinator for the class action lawsuit.  We are currently still accepting eligible children (any child with a disability/IEP).  If you would like to take part or would like to share the information with your advocacy groups, you can find our online form at: 
For the direct link to the online form you can use this link:

If you have any questions, please let me know.

With Kind Regards,

Alicia Alba | Program Associate
300 East 95th Street, Suite #130
New York, New York 10128
Tel. 646.850.5035 | Cell 917.545.5055
Betsy Combier
Editor, ADVOCATZ Blog
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials 

Lawsuit rips schools for abandoning special needs kids amid COVID-19 pandemic
Selim Algar, NY POST, July 16, 2020

School districts across the country have abandoned special education kids amid the coronavirus crisis, according to a class action Manhattan federal lawsuit slated to be filed Friday.
The case argues that districts ignored federal law by failing to provide legally mandated services to kids who suffer from mental and physical deficits after the closure of schools in March.
“These school districts violated the rights of 6.7 million students across the country by altering their educational programs,” said parent and activist Patrick Donohue. “They put the burden on parents to do the job of these school districts.”
The case names Mayor Bill de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, and districts across the country as defendants.
Backers of the suit will release radio ads in New York to draw attention to the ongoing plight of special education parents.
Two hundred families in 10 states have signed on as plaintiffs so far, arguing that remote learning models have been inadequate for special education kids who often require one on one assistance.
“These programs are federally protected,” Donohue said.
The case is demanding the resumption of full-time in-person special education for impacted kids, fresh evaluations for badly regressed children, compensation for parental expenses incurred during remote learning, and funding for additional staff.
If programs don’t fully resume, the case is pushing for districts to give parents a “blank check” to provide adequate independent services for their children.
“The districts have totally abandoned these families,” said Donohue, who has a disabled teen daughter and has frequently warred with the DOE over her education.
He noted that the city furnished learning centers for the children of emergency workers during the prior school year but made no similar accommodation for special education students.
“There are horror stories from across the country,” Donohue said, highlighting a mother with two autistic kids who was forced to quit her job in order to take care of her kids after in-person services were suspended.
He also ripped remote learning for disabled kids as wholly ineffective.
“In many cases, the local school districts failed to even provide live synchronous service to these students while they were home,” he said.  “Instead, the responsibility for ‘remote learning’ landed squarely on the shoulders of parents across America.”
A DOE spokeswoman said the department prioritized health concerns when it shuttered schools and was compelled to move to remote learning.
“We quickly moved to remote learning, including special education services in order to provide students with disabilities with continuity of services during the pandemic,” said Danielle Filson. “This summer, we are offering in-person related services for our students with disabilities. We are acting in the best interests of our students while following health guidance and will review the lawsuit.”