02.23.2015 | Chalkbeat New York | “Overreliance on suspension is an issue that needs to be addressed for all public schools, including charter schools,” said Paulina Davis, a staff attorney at Advocates for Children who represents charter-school students in disciplinary cases... A report released by Advocates for Children this month found that a large portion of the city’s charter schools had discipline policies that violated state and federal laws, prompting calls for more thorough reporting of discipline data. Read article
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02.23.2015 | Brooklyn Independent Media: BK Live | Abja Midha (Advocates for Children of New York) and Kim Sykes (The New York Immigration Coalition) discuss how Build a Bridge tries to help immigrant parents with language translation in the school system.
02.17.2015 | Chalkbeat New York | On Tuesday, parents said that help was still sorely needed, telling stories of student report cards and progress reports not being sent home in a parent’s native language, fliers telling parents about their right to translation services mailed home in English, and parent-teacher conferences and school workshops held without translation services. Earlier this year, middle school guides were not translated for weeks after being released in English. In 2012, Advocates for Children along with New York Lawyers for Public Interest filed a lawsuit against the city claiming it was not providing translation and interpretation services for non-English speaking parents of special education students, which has not yet been resolved. Read article
02.17.2015 | New York Daily News | Federal law grants immigrant public school parents a right to translation and immigration services. A city Department of Education policy requires language services in the nine most common languages other than English spoken by city parents — Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Urdu — but schools are not complying, said Abja Midha of Advocates for Children of New York. In 2012, her group filed a legal complaint against the city Education Department, calling a lack of translation services for non-English-speaking parents of kids with disabilities a “systemic failure.” “It’s an issue that continues throughout the system,” Midha said. Read article
02.13.2015 | New York Times | Some civil rights and children’s advocates were less celebratory of the administration’s specific new policies, which they considered relatively minor, and more optimistic about the introduction of a team of educators, parents, police and city officials that is to consider additional changes. “It’s a start,” Kim Sweet, executive director for Advocates for Children, a legal and advocacy agency, said of the announcement. “My hope is that it’s just a start.” Read article
02.13.2015 | WNYC SchoolBook | Bernard Dufresne, a staff attorney with Advocates for Children of New York, said he also hoped to eventually eliminate suspensions for insubordination. However, he called the proposed new code a "good start." He also noted the appointment of a new School Climate Leadership Team that will be reviewing data and advising the administration on additional changes. Read article
02.13.2015 | Capital New York | The Department of Education announced a series of long-awaited reforms to the school discipline code on Friday, including new policies aimed at lowering suspension rates, and new funding to support restorative justices practices and students in the criminal justice system....On Friday, advocates praised the reforms, but focused largely on the potential of the new task force. Kim Sweet, the executive director of Advocates for Children, said "[De Blasio] has assembled a leadership team with the potential to develop policies that will benefit thousands of students a year." Read article
02.13.2015 | Colorlines | New York City charter schools’ harsh school discipline policies violate city discipline standards and state law, researchers at the New York City group Advocates for Children (PDF) found. The new report, released Thursday, details a troubling narrative: families, who at first experience joyful relief over their children’s admission to a charter school soon gives way to frustration and confusion when their students are suspended, and then often summarily expelled by those same charter schools which promise extra supports for students. Read article
02.13.2015 | Gothamist | A children’s advocacy group has found that large numbers of NYC charter schools are violating state and federal law in their disciplinary practices, handing out excessive suspensions and expulsions—often without due process—to children as young as five. Through Freedom of Information Law requests, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) obtained the discipline policies of 155 out of the 183 total charter schools in NYC during the 2012-2013 school year and part of the 2013-2014 school year. Their report, "Civil Rights Suspended," examines how those policies fail to protect students and details some of the most egregious allegations of excessive discipline. Read article
02.12.2015 | New York Times | Most of New York City’s charter schools have disciplinary codes that do not meet either state or federal requirements, according to a report by a children’s advocacy organization that is to be released on Thursday. The finding adds a new dimension to a long-running debate about the role that strict forms of discipline plays in the city’s public schools. “These are public schools, and we should be expecting them to meet the requirements of the law,” said Paulina Davis, a staff attorney with the group, Advocates for Children, and the principal author of the report. Read article