The city is on the hook for millions of dollars in private school tuition after failing to find seats for thousands of kindergartners with special needs, the Daily News has learned.
The Department of Education missed a June 15 deadline to find spots for thousands of kindergartners with disabilities - and now the city could be liable for their tuition in private schools, officials acknowledged.
The holdup is also causing panic for families who are still waiting to hear where their kids are going to kindergarten next year.
"We're still in limbo," said Maria Farano of Staten Island, who still doesn't know where her daughter, who has autism, will attend kindergarten in the fall.
"We can't go on with our lives because we don't know what's going to happen," said Farano, a stay-at-home mom who is losing sleep because of the stress.
Education officials said they were still figuring out precisely how many kids were without seats and therefore unable to provide a firm number of how many children are left without assignments - and how much it will cost the city.
"We are committed to identifying appropriate placements for all incoming kindergartners with disabilities, and we're confident that the majority of parents will choose to send their child to a public school this September," said Deidrea Miller, a department spokeswoman.
While most public school kids already have seats, education officials were struggling to find assignments for the 15,500 incoming kindergartners with special needs because of changes to the city's special education program.
The kids who don't have seats yet are entitled to a private education paid for by the city under a 1988 legal ruling.
The city already spends about $100 million to educate about 4,000 kids in this situation - and now the cost could skyrocket.
"I haven't seen a single kid get a placement letter," said special education advocate Patricia Connelly. "As far as I can tell, they haven't found seats for any of these kids."
Not to worry - they'll just add another couple of thousand teachers in the layoff numbers and pass the savings on to the private school operators.
What a mess.
Maybe if they worried about building more schools and less about firing "bad" teachers and adding dozens of tests to the school year in order to get the "data" to do just that, there wouldn't be this problem.
But as it stands now, the overcrowding problem in the school system is horrendous.
Ultimately, they plan on solving it by doing more online instruction via Wireless Generation and other Bloomberg/Klein education provider cronies.
Online instruction via Wireless Generation ought to work great with five year olds with special needs.
Both Walcott and Bloomberg ought to be run out of town.