A "Defer to CBST" recommendation means that an IEP team has determined that a student with special needs cannot be adequately served by the public school system and that the student's case will be deferred to the New York City's Department of Education's (DOE) central based support team (CBST) to determine whether placement at an approved non-public school is appropriate.

Once "Defer to CBST" is written onto an IEP, the student's IEP, evaluations and other relevant documents are sent to the CBST to determine if there are any appropriate public school placements for the student. If the CBST agrees that there are no appropriate public placements, it will send the student's IEP, evaluations and other relevant documents to approved non-public schools.

Each non-public school will review the information and decide whether or not to invite the student for an interview. If the student is invited to an interview and is subsequently accepted to and enrolls at the approved non-public school, the DOE will fund the student's attendance there.

The CBST may also disagree with the recommendation of the IEP team. In such an event, the CBST will return the student's records to the IEP team and ask it to recommend an appropriate public school placement for the student.