FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. What is this case about?

This lawsuit was filed by parents of students with disabilities in New York City who claimed that the NYC Department of Education (DOE) did not fully and timely implement impartial hearing orders because they did not have a system or effective policies and procedures to ensure timely, efficient, and comprehensive implementation. The DOE has denied the allegations and asserted affirmative defenses. The settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing by the DOE or an indication that any law was violated.

2. Why did I receive the Notice?

You received the notice because you requested an impartial hearing that resulted in an Impartial Hearing Officer's order or stipulation of settlement on the record between December 13, 2000 and January 31, 2008.

3. How do I receive a claim packet in a different language?

In addition to English, the claim packet is available in Urdu, Russian, Spanish, Arabic, Haitian Creole, Bengali, Chinese, and Korean. To receive a claim packet in any of these languages, call the Claims Administrator at 1-800-918-8061.

4. Can I submit the Claim Form in my native language?

You may submit your Claim Form in English, Urdu, Russian, Spanish, Arabic, Haitian Creole, Bengali, Chinese, or Korean.

5. How do I obtain a copy of my Impartial Hearing Order(s)?

To obtain a copy of your Impartial Hearing Order(s), call the Claims Administrator at 1-800-918-8061 any time before June 30, 2008, and you will be sent a copy of your order(s).

6. How do I know if I am an Eligible Claimant?

You are an eligible claimant if:

between December 13, 2000 and January 31, 2008, you obtained a favorable order by an Impartial Hearing Officer against the DOE, or a stipulation of settlement placed on the record at an impartial hearing with the DOE, AND
the order or settlement was not fully and timely implemented.

If you are still not sure whether you are included, you can call Advocates for Children at 212-947-9779 ext. 577 for more information.

7. My child had multiple Impartial Hearing Orders - do I need to file more then one claim form?

Yes. You must include a separate claim form for each order. Although you may get remedies for more than one order under certain circumstances, you will only get a remedy for one order per child in each school year.

8. My hearing order was eventually implemented but it took a long time. Can I receive anything from the settlement?

Even if your order was eventually implemented, you may be eligible for a remedy from the settlement if the order was not timely implemented. If your order required the DOE to take an action other than make a direct payment and the implementation of that portion of the order was not timely, you are eligible to receive either reimbursement for any educational expenses you incurred because of the delay in implementing the order or a voucher for compensatory educational services. But, if the DOE can demonstrate that your order was implemented within 60 days of issuance of the order, you may only be entitled to receive a voucher for up to $2,000 unless you can show that the student experienced more than minimal harm due to the delay.

9. A portion of my order was fully and timely implemented but another portion was not. Can I receive anything from the settlement?

Even if only part of your order was not fully and timely implemented, you may be eligible to file a claim under the settlement. For example, if your order required the DOE to make a payment and provide a service, and the DOE made the payment but did not provide the service, you can file a claim for reimbursement for any expenses you incurred because the service was not provided or ask for a voucher for compensatory educational services or assistive technology.

10. What do I need to do to receive compensation?

To receive a voucher for educational services, repayment for educational services, and/or any payments required by an impartial hearing order, you must fill out and return the claim form, along with any required documentation, postmarked on or before June 30, 2008.

11. What do I need to submit with my claim form?

If you are only asking for a voucher for compensatory educational services or assistive technology, you ONLY need to submit the claim form.
If your order required the DOE to pay a specific dollar amount and you are asking for payment of that amount, you ONLY need to submit the claim form.
In all other circumstances, please refer to the instructions on the second page of the Claim Filing Instructions.

12. What will I receive if I file a claim form?

The compensation eligible claimants may receive depends on each claimant's circumstances and so it is not possible to give you an exact amount. You may be eligible to receive payment of any funds that the DOE was ordered to pay, reimbursement for expenses that you incurred because the DOE did not fully and timely comply with an impartial hearing order, or a voucher for educational services and assistive technology for up to $8,000 ($15,000 in special circumstances).

13. If I file a Claim Form and the required documentation, will I automatically receive what I request?

No. The DOE can challenge your claim and try to show that your order was fully and timely implemented or that the student in question suffered no or very minimal harm despite any failure to fully and timely implement the order. The DOE must submit any challenges within 35 days of the date your Claim Form is postmarked. Copies of any challenge made will be sent to you and any advocate you identified on your Claim Form. You will have 60 days from the day you receive a challenge to respond. The Independent Auditor will then decide whether the DOE has proven that the order was timely implemented or that the student suffered insignificant harm. Your claim must also be reviewed and approved by the Independent Auditor if you are asking for a voucher.

14. Who is entitled to a voucher?

If the hearing order required the DOE to provide educational services or take any action other than make a payment and the DOE did not fully and timely implement the order, you may be eligible to receive a voucher for educational services or assistive technology from the settlement.

15. What determines the amount of the voucher that I may receive?

The standard amount for the vouchers is $8,000 but the voucher amount may be increased or decreased in special circumstances. You can receive a voucher for $15,000 if the student was out of school or in a grossly inappropriate placement for more than 45 school days within a 60 school day period, unless the DOE can show to the Independent Auditor that its failure to timely implement the order was not the cause of the student's grossly inappropriate placement or being out of school.

The amount of a voucher may also be reduced if the DOE successfully challenges your voucher in any of the following ways:

If the DOE shows that any harm to the student was minimal, then your voucher will be between $0 and$2,000.
If the DOE shows that it only failed to provide one related service required by the order (speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, or counseling), then your voucher will be for $4,000.
If the DOE shows that it sent an invitation for the student to participate in the 2004 Summer Related Services Compensation Program, then your voucher will be for $4,000. unless you demonstrate that you did not receive the invitation or had a reasonable justification for not using it.
If the student received a local or Regents high school diploma on or before January 31, 2008, you may not receive a voucher, but you may still make a claim for reimbursement of costs incurred because your order was not implemented or payment of a order requiring payment that was never paid.

16. Where can I use a voucher from the settlement?

A preliminary list of providers who have agreed to accept vouchers in connection with the settlement is available on the settlement website at www.hearingordersettlement.com and you may also receive it by calling Advocates for Children at 212-947-9779 ext. 577. This list may be updated from time to time. If you would like to use the voucher at an educational provider who is not on this list, you may submit a request for approval to the Independent Auditor. To do so, you should write a letter addressed to the Independent Auditor and mail it to: LV et al v. NYC Dept of Education, c/o The Garden City Group, Inc., P.O. Box 9000 #6495, Merrick, NY 11566-9000.

17. How will the vouchers work?

If you use a pre-approved provider, you can present the voucher to the provider as payment. The provider will submit bills to the DOE through the Claims Administrator that will be paid within 45 days.

18. When will I receive my payment and/or voucher?

The Court will hold a Settlement Fairness Hearing on April 10, 2008 to decide whether to approve the proposed settlement. If the Court approves the settlement, there could still be appeals. If any appeal is filed, it is uncertain how long it might take to resolve. Once the proposed settlement is final, vouchers and payments will be sent out no more than 60 days after the date your claim form and all supporting documentation is received or 60 days after the date the settlement comes into effect, whichever is later, unless the DOE challenges your claim. If the DOE decides to challenge your claim, it must do so within 35 days of the date your claim is postmarked. You will then have 60 days to respond to the DOE's challenge to your claim. If the Independent Auditor decides that you are entitled to a payment or a voucher despite the DOE's challenge, you will receive the voucher or payment within 45 days after the Independent Auditor's decision.

19. How do I receive payment or a voucher?

If the settlement is approved and you are entitled to payment or a voucher from the settlement, you will receive a check or a voucher in the mail. If the order required payment to be made to a provider and you have asked for payment to be made, the provider will be paid directly.

20. When must I submit my Claim Form?

You must submit your Claim Form, along with any supporting documentation, so that it is postmarked no later than June 30, 2008.

21. Do I have to give my Claim Form to my Attorney or can I send it in?

If you had an attorney represent you at your impartial hearing, you may wish to consult with that attorney prior to submitting your Claim Form. You may mail the form, along with any supporting documentation, yourself. An attorney or other authorized representative may also sign and submit the Claim Form on your behalf so long as he or she submits proof of authorization together with the Claim Form and any required supporting documentation.

22. Who is the Independent Auditor?

The parties have proposed two possible entities to serve as the Independent Auditor and are waiting for the Court to decide. After the Court has made a decision, the identity of the Independent Auditor will be posted on the website at www.hearingordersettlement.com and you can also obtain that information by calling Advocates for Children at 212-947-9779 ext 577.

23. How does this Settlement affect implementation of hearing orders in the future?

The Independent Auditor will be issuing quarterly reports concerning the DOE's implementation of impartial hearing orders. If the DOE does not timely implement enough orders, it will have to implement a corrective action plan and, if that does not work, Class Counsel may ask the Court to find that the DOE has violated the Stipulation of Settlement and impose a remedy.

24. What if I receive an impartial hearing order on or after February 1, 2008?

You will not be eligible for the vouchers or payment, but you retain all of your rights to seek appropriate individual relief in an appropriate forum if your order is not timely implemented. If the Independent Auditor finds that the DOE did not fully and timely implement your order, you will receive a Non-Implementation Notice that you can use as evidence in a litigation to enforce your order.

25. How will I know when my Claim Form has been received by the Claims Administrator?

The Claims Administrator will send a confirmation postcard within thirty days of receipt of your Claim Form. If you do not receive a postcard, please contact the Claims Administrator by email at questions@hearingordersettlement.com or call the toll-free helpline.

26. What can I do if I have further questions or need assistance completing my Claim Form?

You can call Advocates for Children at 212-947-9779 ext 577 if you have further questions or need assistance completing your claim form.

27. What happens if I change my address after I mail my Claim Form?

If your address changes after you have submitted your Claim Form, you must notify the Claims Administrator of your new address in writing at LV et al v. NYC Dept of Education, c/o The Garden City Group, Inc., P.O. Box 9000 #6495, Merrick, NY 11566-9000.

28. When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the proposed settlement?

The court will hold a Settlement Fairness Hearing at 10:00 am on April 10, 2008 at the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse, 500 Pearl Street, New York, New York 10007, in Courtroom 14A. At this hearing, the Court will consider whether the proposed settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the proposed settlement. You may attend the hearing, but you are not required to do so.

29. What if I don't like the proposed settlement?

If you would like to object to the settlement, you may mail a written objection to the addresses on page 5 of the Settlement Notice. If you would like to speak at the hearing, you must ask the Court for permission. To do so, follow the instructions on page 6 of the Settlement Notice. Your letter must be postmarked no later than March 21, 2008.

30. Who is the Claims Administrator?

The Claims Administrator is The Garden City Group, Inc.

31. What do I do if I do not want to be a part of this settlement?

If you do not want to be a part of this settlement, return the form included with the Settlement Notice to say that you want to "opt-out," or not receive the voucher, reimbursement, or payment. If you opt-out, you will be free to pursue your individual legal claims concerning your impartial hearing order or orders dated on or before January 31, 2008.

32. What happens if I do not do anything?

If you do nothing and you are eligible for a voucher or payment of educational expenses, you will NOT receive whatever voucher or payment that you would otherwise be entitled to receive. You also will not be able to start a lawsuit, continue with a lawsuit, or be a part of any other lawsuit against the DOE about the legal issues in this case, ever again. Therefore, you should send in the claim form, or the form to opt out of the settlement, no later than June 30, 2008.

33. Where can I obtain additional information about the litigation?

For more information, visit www.hearingordersettlement.com or call Advocates for Children at 212-947-9779 ext 577. Do not contact the Court concerning the Settlement Notice or lawsuit.

34. Where can I obtain a copy of the Settlement Notice and/or Claim Form?

You may download the Settlement Notice and Claim Form at www.hearingordersettlement.com. You can also call the Claims Administrator at 1-800-918-8061 to request a copy.