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Sharon has a learning disability and recently graduated from high school thanks to AFC's assistance securing the support she needed to learn.

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09.18.2014 | Wall Street Journal | Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children of New York, said it was critical for school staff to know how to proceed in such emergencies, and the training requirements of Avonte's Law were the most important element. The law requires that the report to the City Council spell out the type of safety training given and to whom. "Even if an alarm goes off, staff has to know what to do," Ms. Sweet said. Judging by the details of Nashaly's case, she added, school staff "are not communicating and not following protocols and something needs to be changed to make sure kids are safe." Read article

09.12.2014 | New York Post | About one in four NYC middle-school students — 52,292 out of 227,474 — are at least one year older than their peers because they repeated a grade, according to figures obtained by Advocates for Children of New York. And 8,644 junior-high students are at least three years older than other kids in their classes because they were held back several times. But the city provides only 446 seats in alternative programs for students who want to enter ninth grade but are more than 15 years old, according to city data. Overage middle schoolers are twice as likely to drop out, studies show. “They’re significantly older than their peers, they’re stuck with students who are 11 to 13 years old, and most of the Department of Education’s options are not available to them,” said Ashley Grant, a lawyer for the advocacy group, which got the data through a Freedom of Information filing. Read article

09.10.2014 | SchoolBook | Middle school students in New York City's public schools who are held back a year or more generally are not getting the support they need to succeed in school, according to a report released Wednesday by the Advocates for Children of New York. Without extra attention, these students are about two to 11 times more likely to drop out. "They're stuck in limbo until many of them give up and drop out," said the group's executive director, Kim Sweet. Read article

09.10.2014 | Chalkbeat | Nearly a quarter of the city’s middle-school students — or more than 50,000 pupils — have been held back from moving to the next grade at least once in their school careers, according to a new report by Advocates for Children of New York, which provides free legal and advocacy services for families. Last school year, more than 8,600 middle-school students were, like Daniel, three or more years older than most of their classmates...For a new schools chancellor who has made middle schools a priority, these older middle-school students present a daunting test. Like Daniel, they are more likely than other students to have a disability, to be black or Hispanic, and to attend a school in a low-income area, according to the report, which analyzed demographic data from the 2011-12 school year. The path to graduation for these students can look bleak: They have lower attendance rates than their peers and are two to 11 times more likely to drop out of school, according to statistics cited in the report. Read article

09.03.2014 | Chalkbeat | School discipline has been under scrutiny for years, with advocates repeatedly sounding the alarm about high suspension rates among black and Hispanic students and students with disabilities. A coalition of advocates led by retired Chief Judge of New York Judith Kaye made additional recommendations in 2013, and the discipline code—which outlines the city’s school discipline policies and students’ rights—has already changed over the last few years to emphasize alternatives to suspension....Nick Sheehan, who works on the School Justice Project at Advocates for Children, said advocates are still anticipating big-picture changes. “Our understanding, from what they’ve said publicly, is that they’re looking to make a bigger announcement and hopefully including a leadership team to look at school discipline and safety writ large,” he said, referencing the major recommendation of the 2013 report. Still, he said, “We’re disappointed they haven’t moved a little quicker on this.” Read article

08.27.2014 | Associated Press | About 600 Department of Education sites will be used for pre-K sites, but since public schools don't have the space to accommodate all the new students, more than 1,100 community-based organizations like day cares and religious schools will also host the programs. De Blasio has promised that every classroom will be inspected by the first day of school, which has reassured some advocates. "This is a really ambitious undertaking, and we don't expect that everything will go smoothly," said Kim Sweet, executive director of the Advocates for Children of New York. "Of course, the safety of the children is critical." Read article

08.04.2014 | Time Warner Cable News, Binghamton | For one Binghamton teen, obstacles are just something you learn to overcome. Machella Raymond didn't have the easiest childhood....but that didn't stop her. After spending years in foster care and being homeless, she graduated high school with honors and received a scholarship...Machella's visit to the White House was part of the first lady's "Reach Higher" initiative to encourage young people to pursue their dreams through college. The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth and Advocates for Children in New York sponsored her participation. Read article

07.28.2014 | New York Times | Most of the 190,000 special-education students in the city — and roughly 12,000 being educated privately at public expense — are not as severely disabled. Told of Dylan’s case, supporters of special-needs families and others said they could not understand why the city would fight it, because Dylan’s family had wanted to place him in one of a handful of private schools where the state picks up most of the tab. (Those schools serve about two-thirds of the 12,000 students.) But some said it was an example of how litigious the city had become. “Unfortunately, every day, our office hears from parents who have to fight with the D.O.E.,” said Randi Levine, policy coordinator at Advocates for Children of New York. “Too often we see a level of antagonism and resistance to helping children that can have harmful consequences.” Read article

07.02.2014 | Student Press Law Center | Advocates for Children of New York, which signed the amicus brief alongside SPLC, is pleased with the ruling, said Dawn Yuster, the group’s School Justice Project director. “Advocates for Children strongly supports positive approaches to discipline, such as ones that improve the school climate and keep kids out of jail,” Yuster said. “Both laws like this one and zero tolerance policies that push kids out of the classroom do nothing to respond to what causes bullying.” Read article

07.02.2014 | Capital New York | The Department of Education faces a daunting challenge in accommodating a large and growing population of special needs students, statistics in an Independent Budget Office report released Tuesday revealed...“These numbers remind us that students with special needs are not a minor sub-population,” said Kim Sweet, the executive director of Advocates For Children. “In fact, they’re a significant segment of the student body in New York City that we need to focus on educating well.” Read article