September 10, 2012
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Dear Governor Cuomo:
I oppose your Executive budget which would have a devastating impact on the children of Mill Neck Manor
School for the Deaf. Your budget would shift the entire cost of educating children at our school to local school
districts, abandoning the nearly 200-year tradition of state support for the education of children who are blind,
Deaf or severely physically disabled.
Your Executive Budget proposes a number of changes which are of great concern to me because it:
Alters the appointment process for children to attend these schools;
Significantly changes the system by which these schools are funded, replacing it with a rate setting that
delays payments for months (or even years!), which has led to some to close and others to accrue
Shifts costs to the home school district of the disabled child;
Changes the evaluation process so that parents would no longer be able to take their child directly to a
4201 (state supported) school, like Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf, for an evaluation; parents
would be required to go through the local school district.
As an alumni member of Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf, I am very concerned about the damage this
proposed change would have on Deaf, blind and physically disabled students. At the 4201 Schools, the faculty
and staff have the professional knowledge and expertise to communicate directly with each student, without an
interpreter or a third-party aide. If school districts are forced to take on the responsibility of evaluating each of
these students, direct communication with students would, very likely, be lost. Evaluating children indirectly,
through interpreters – for whom there are no minimum quality standards or qualifications in our state – is not
effective in determining a child’s degree of disability. In addition, significant strides have been made in Deaf
education over the last decade, with regard to cochlear implants, digital hearing aids and auditory/oral verbal
therapy, and many school districts are not trained or equipped to handle this technology.
The appropriate education evaluation and placement for Deaf, blind and physically disabled children must be the
priority. The 4201 School system has proven to be highly effective. These proposals jeopardize the education of
New York’s students who are Deaf, blind or physically disabled and their future prospects for achievement.
The 4201 Schools, like Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf, are equipped to provide for students with the most
challenging of disabilities and combination of disabilities. These schools do what districts cannot, and that is
why these schools have been here so long, and why they have to remain!