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Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf sues state

Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf has filed a lawsuit against the state Education Department and state Division of Budget, alleging that unlawful and unfair distribution of state funding has shortchanged its students.

Educators at the specialized school are seeking changes in the funding formula, saying the school received about $600,000 less than it should have over the past three years even as its enrollment grew.

The suit challenges the way the Education Department allocated $6.9 million in additional funding appropriated this year to educational institutions in the 4201 Schools Association of New York State. It was filed in state Supreme Court in Albany on Aug. 14.

The 4201 Schools Association, which also was named in the lawsuit, currently includes nine private, state-supported schools for children with low-incidence disabilities, according to its website. Students who attend the schools are blind, deaf or severely physically disabled.

The Education Department “has ignored its legal authority by permitting an outside organization — 4201 Association — to determine how funding is allocated and distributed,” Michael F. Killian, president and CEO of the Mill Neck Family of Organizations, said in a news release Thursday.

Killian said Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf left the 4201 Schools Association in 2016 over the funding issue.

The Education Department and the Division of Budget do not comment on pending litigation, officials with those agencies said Thursday.

Paul Larrabee, a spokesman for the 4201 Schools Association, said the group was “saddened and disappointed” by Mill Neck Manor’s decision to file the lawsuit.

“Our advocacy efforts are designed to benefit every one of the students that attend our specially authorized schools,” he said.

The lawsuit also contends the 4201 Schools Association has not fairly distributed funding to Mill Neck Manor and asks that a revised share be recalculated and distributed to the Mill Neck school.

It alleges “the (4201) Association contrived a methodology, which benefits certain schools to the detriment of others” and its formula “ignores recent trends in enrollment,” relying on outdated full-time enrollment numbers from prior years.

The Mill Neck school’s enrollment, as expressed in numerical categories, was more than 92 students in the 2013-14 school year, more than 109 in 2014-15 and more than 106 in 2015-16, the most recent figure provided by the school.

Founded in 1952, Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf provides education and services to children from 40 Long Island school districts and from New York City.

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