hero image
18 Aug 2022

New York, NY – Outrage is growing over New York City Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor David Banks’ recent comments claiming families routinely “game the system” to receive benefits they are legally entitled to under the law for their special needs children.

All New York City students deserve fair treatment, and Banks’ statement was an affront to the very community he is entrusted to serve. New York City parents of special needs students are routinely subjected to a difficult, exhausting, and financially prohibitive process just to get services they are legally entitled to. This is no way to speak of their struggles. Furthermore, his threats to cut funding for these life-saving services and schools has only fueled anxiety for these families, many of whom are drowning in paperwork and legal fees because the DOE is not providing for their children.

Below are statements regarding Banks’ comments from a New York City parent of a child with special needs, the executive director of a school that serves students with special needs, and Dan Mitzner, Director of Government Affairs at Teach NYS, a statewide nonprofit that advocates for all New York students.

“The parents and caregivers of children with special needs are simply trying to do their best to give their kids the education they are legally entitled to. They deserve respect and sympathy from the DOE, not scorn and insinuations of wrongdoing. We are lucky that we have some schools that can step up and provide services they can’t get anywhere else. We stand with parents and students with special needs. It’s disappointing that the Chancellor of the nation’s largest school district does not,” said Dan Mitzner, Director of Government Affairs at Teach NYS.

“As the parent of a child with special needs, I was shocked to hear Chancellor Banks‘ comments. Families like ours have gone through so much just to provide our children a proper education. The Chancellor needs to educate himself by talking to parents about the real life impacts the DOE’s lack of services have on students and the painful choices we have been forced to make,” said Devora Spielman, the parent of a student at IVDU Schools.

“Our school and other nonpublic special education schools service students who need the most care. Chancellor Banks should focus his energies on fixing the system so that our schools and the DOE can work together to service the students who need the most help. The city must do better for these students.” said Chananya Berman, MSW, Executive Director of Ohr Dovid School.