Patterson Belknap and Advocates for Children Win Appellate Victory for Students with Disabilities

February 8, 2023

Patterson Belknap and Advocates for Children of New York successfully appealed the dismissal of a class action complaint against the New York City Department of Education and New York State Education Department on behalf of students with disabilities who have not received an appropriate education, as federal and state law require, during the COVID-related period of remote learning.

The complaint, filed by the firm and Advocates for Children in the Southern District of New York in November 2020, seeks a streamlined, system-wide process to identify and provide the compensatory services necessary to address each student’s educational harm. In March 2022, the federal district court dismissed the complaint on the ground that each plaintiff was required to “exhaust administrative remedies” by filing a special education administrative hearing complaint. Organizations including the New York City Bar Association, Student Support Services, The Legal Aid Society, NYPLI, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, and the New York Legal Assistance Group filed amicus briefs in support of the firm’s position. In February 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the lower court’s dismissal, noting that the class action complaint “sets forth precisely” the kind of systemic delays for which exhaustion of administrative remedies is not required, and held that the class action may proceed.

To read the full press release, please click here.  

To read the Second Circuit order, please click here.

To read the complaint, please click here.

To read Chalkbeat New York's coverage, please click here