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Christiana 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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07.27.2015 | WNYC Schoolbook | Every school has access to over-the-phone interpretation services, but the NYIC surveyed 175 parents this year and found that only six percent of them had ever used it. “Language Line is available in more than 200 languages,” said Abja Midha, Project Director for Immigrant Students’ Rights at Advocates for Children, the second firm that filed the 2012 suit. “This is a great resource the city has available and that schools have available in order to communicate with parents.” The NYIC’s survey, which came out last month, found that more than half of parents had used their children or other students as interpreters. According to Midha, even when there is interpretation, many times it’s unprofessional. She said many times teachers or school psychologists serve as untrained interpreters, often telling parents what to do and not being neutral. Read article

07.15.2015 | Chalkbeat New York | Rubel worries that English language learners and students with disabilities could be disproportionately affected. Of the roughly 9,600 English language learners who took the new test in 2014, when the old test was available as a safety net, 26 percent passed. Of the larger group who took the old exam over three test administrations last school year — more than 23,700 students — half passed. “To see these numbers I think really raises some concerns about what graduation rates will look like in the next couple of years, especially in New York City, which has such a large population of high-need students,” said Christian Villenas, a senior policy analyst with Advocates for Children of New York. “This is very troubling.” Read article

07.13.2015 | Chalkbeat New York | Finally, she contacted the nonprofit Advocates for Children, which flagged her case for the education department in February. Amira finally was evaluated the next month — two years after Barrett’s first request. “Two years in the life of a six-year-old is a third of her life,” said Maggie Moroff, Advocates for Children’s special education policy coordinator. An education department spokesman said that while privacy laws prevent the agency from commenting on individual cases, it is committed to making sure all students get the help they need. But Moroff said the city had fumbled Barrett’s case. “This is a parent who did everything right,” she said. “And it just wasn’t happening.” Read article

07.07.2015 | WNYC Schoolbook | Maggie Moroff, a special education policy coordinator with the group Advocates for Children, said she was still waiting for more clarity around this whole process. "Obviously, parents had a horrible time getting the help they needed under the old system," she said. "So, if this new system actually allows parents to connect easily with people who can solve their problems, that will be a huge improvement." Read article

06.16.2015 | NY1 | A new report has uncovered major gaps in access to translation and interpretation services for immigrant parents in city schools. "Parents have a right to translation and interpretation services. Translation and interpretation services should be available in, at least, the top nine languages in New York City," said Abja Midha, project director for Advocates for Children of New York. Read article

06.12.2015 | City Limits | This month we celebrate commencement for thousands of high school students throughout New York state. Many will attend college, learn a new trade or enter the workforce. Graduating high school in New York is no small feat. Besides required courses, students must pass five standardized exit exams, known as the Regents. Only one other state requires more exams, and half of all states require none. In 2014, this led to 24 percent of the 2010 high school cohort not graduating on time. Just 10 states had worse outcomes. So, who is left behind? Of course, they are students traditionally branded as difficult-to-teach: low-income students, students of color, students with disabilities and English language learners. Read article

06.07.2015 | NY1 | Student advocates say hearing tests are not required in New York City public schools, so students with hearing problems can go undetected, and that can affect academic performance. “We’ve heard from audiologists that hearing impairments are much more common in students than generally people are aware of.” Watch video segment

05.20.2015 | Capital New York | The group Advocates for Children on Wednesday settled a class action lawsuit filed more than a decade ago against the Department of Education on behalf of students with disabilities who were disciplined in city schools. The lawsuit, filed in 2002 during the Bloomberg administration, alleged special needs students were denied legal protections when they were suspended or excluded from school for behavioral reasons. Read article

04.13.2015 | Gotham Gazette | Nick Sheehan, staff attorney at Advocates for Children, shares Chowdhury's view. Torres' bill, he said, would increase transparency "about how the City chooses to allocate its resources." He went further, saying the bill should also add ratios of social workers and school psychologists to school safety agents, and the ratio of those staff members to students. He also agreed that Gibson's bill would address the limitations in the Student Safety Act. "They're technical tweaks, but they're important," he said. Read article

04.07.2015 | Chalkbeat New York | When students start to show signs of significant reading difficulties — they struggle to make sense of individual words and whole texts — then experts say they need frequent, specialized help with their basic reading skills. But that demands highly trained teachers and well-structured programs. “For kids who need extra help, you can’t just leave it to the teachers to figure out,” said Maggie Moroff, special education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children, the nonprofit that represented Ashley’s mother, Brenda Brazell, in the administrative hearing. Moroff is working on a study of effective literacy interventions in city schools. “If there’s anything consistent I’ve seen in all the programs that work, it’s very, very directed and focused — it’s not haphazard at all.” Read article