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FAQ: JL Letter

Recently, you may have received a notice in connection with a lawsuit that is now in federal court (J.L., et al. v. New York City Department of Education, Case No. 17-cv-7150 (S.D.N.Y.)). This is an ongoing lawsuit where Advocates for Children and Greenberg Traurig represent the plaintiffs.

Why did I receive this letter?

You received the letter in connection with a lawsuit that AFC filed for 3 parents. In the lawsuit, 3 parents represented by AFC sued the DOE because their children did not receive proper in-school nursing, porter and/or transportation services and accommodations. As part of the lawsuit, we requested that the DOE produce documents about nursing, transportation accommodations and porter services the DOE provided to individual children with disabilities, as well as information concerning parents and students who have requested, received or had recommended nursing, transportation or porter services on their IEPs. These documents may help us demonstrate a systemic problem with the DOE providing these required services to students in a proper manner, and will help us better understand where there are problems in the current system and how the system should be improved. These documentes would be kept entirely confidential; we cannot show them to the public or use them for any purpose other than this lawsuit.

If you requested these services or accomodations for your child, it is possible that the documents the DOE produces might include identifying information about your child. Therefore, the DOE has sent you this letter in order to give you the opportunity to keep that information confidential. Disclosing these documents to us will not change in any way the rights that your child has in receiving services from the DOE, and the DOE cannot use your decision here in any way to impact your child’s rights.

Am I being sued?

You are not being sued. This is just a notice that some of your child’s documents might be produced to us in connection with the lawsuit that we filed, so that we can try to improve the system for providing nursing, porter service, and medical accommodations on the bus. You received the notice to give you the opportunity to tell the DOE that you do not want your child’s information produced to us. You are not part of any lawsuit as a result of this notice.

My child has an IEP, but does not have nursing. Why did I receive this letter?

The DOE sent this letter to many more families than those of students whose documents might be produced. If your child does not have nursing and you never requested nursing, porter service, or medical accommodations on the bus, there is a good chance your child’s documents will not be produced.

Will my child’s information be produced if I do not opt out?

If you do not opt out, and your child’s documents involve nursing, porter service, or medical accommodations on the bus, there is a possibility that your child’s information will be produced to us. If there is no connection between your child and any DOE-provided nursing, porter or transportation accommodations, then it is unlikely that any documents about your child will be produced in this case. However, it is up to you to decide whether you would like to object to your child's records potentially being produced in this case, regardless of the services they are provided or have requested.

If I do not opt out, will my child’s entire student record be made available?

No. The DOE is only producing to us the documents involving nursing, porter services, or medical accommodations on the bus.

What types of documents may be provided if I do not opt out and who will be able to see them?

If you do not opt out, the DOE may produce identifying information about the student to the extent that it involves nursing, transportation or porter services and/or accommodations. Plaintiffs’ attorneys, the court and any experts or other related parties to the litigation must keep this information confidential. No one can use the produced information and documents for any other purpose other than the lawsuit and even then we will need to keep the documents confidential from the public. You are only required to submit the objection if you are opting out of the production, but if you do not have an objection then you do not need to do anything.

Do the individual Plaintiffs have access to the information?

Only the parties to the lawsuit, the court, and related parties will have access to the documents and information. There is a confidentiality agreement in this case which means that the documents can only be used for purposes of the lawsuit, and cannot be disclosed to the public.

Do I need to produce any documents individually?

No, you do not need to produce anything to us directly. The request for documents was made to the DOE, so the DOE will be producing any documents to us that they may have related to the case. This only relates to the student’s records kept by the DOE.

If I opt out what happens to the documents?

If you opt out, your child’s personal information will not be produced. Although your child’s records may be produced, any personal information will be removed from the documents so that the information is not seen by the Plaintiffs’ attorneys.

Is this a class action? Can I become involved in this litigation?

This is not a class action, so you cannot become involved in the litigation. The only Plaintiffs are the three families who filed the lawsuit, but these documents are relevant because the Plaintiffs are trying to demonstrate a systemic problem with the DOE’s services as a whole.

However, if you have a specific story or instance, please send us a message, and we can help determine whether it makes sense to raise it with the DOE’s attorneys.