The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) recently came out in opposition against the bill that New York City Councilman Justin Brannan, who represents District 43, introduced. The bill would see yeshivas and private schools offered loans for up to two years, to provide services and facilities for students with disabilities. The bill would see the provision of interest-free, two-year loans that are paid for when New York City Public Schools deliver delayed tuition reimbursement. UFT called on the City Council to push NYC Public Schools to pay their vendors expediently instead of introducing a new layer of bureaucracy.
“On its face, the bill is unnecessary and irrational. Rather than fix the systems by which DOE pays its vendors, the bill carves out a particular group of vendors, and requires DOE to pay them with one hand then collect the same money back as a loan repayment with the other,” the UFT said. “DOE should fix its processes rather than add yet another program to its administrative pile.”
The city is obligated to provide private schools with the necessary financial resources if public schools cannot provide for special needs or disabled students suffering from speech impediments and dyslexia. The city has faced several lawsuits for failing to adequately provide the necessary resources for the above-mentioned students. The provision of funding for these purposes has been a contentious issue in the city for years. Recently, New York City Public Schools Chancellor David Banks reportedly lamented the status quo, claiming that providing that funding to private schools took away from public schools.
“All this money that is meant for the kids in our public schools are going to private schools,” he allegedly said during a parental advisory council meeting. “Folks have figured out how to game this system.”
While Councilman Brannan said he noted the UFT’s complaints regarding the current system, he said that a solution was required in the more immediate term to help with the problem. “I agree with the UFT in that the status quo is indefensible and I look forward to working with them to finally fix the longstanding problems at the DOE when it comes to timely payment,” he said. “In the meantime, we need to do something to provide relief for families in the here and now and my bill would do that.”
Teach NYS, an organization that represents Jewish academic institutions and yeshivas, supports the bill proposed by Councilman Brannan.
The Mayor’s Office said it was working with all relevant stakeholders in New York City to improve the state of education and provision of resources for students with disabilities.
“We appreciate the council member’s interest in this critical DOE priority and we welcome the chance to collaborate with him on our efforts in this area, especially given the more than $1 billion in costs to the city. We also look forward to discussing these priorities with all our partners on the City Council as we continue to move the needle forward in a fiscally responsible manner,” said a spokesperson for Mayor Eric Adams.