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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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AFC in the News

10.30.2014 | New York Daily News | Piece by Nick Sheehan, Skadden Fellow on AFC's School Justice Project, informing the greater NYC community that students who are suspended have basic due process rights. The hearing allows the accused to present their version of events and to question any evidence the school wants to submit. The school must present a witness or the accused student has to admit to wrongdoing. Without either one, the charges are dismissed. Read article

10.30.2014 | Huffington Post | Bernard Dufresne, a staff attorney for the nonprofit group Advocates for Children, called for more transparency when it comes to restraining students, pointing to the success of the 2010 Student Safety Act in reducing superfluous suspensions. “Thanks in part to the Student Safety Act, which requires the [DOE] to report on the number of suspensions every school year, suspensions have slowly started to drop,” said Dufresne. “Similarly, the DOE should have to report on the use of handcuffs on students, along with the number of arrests and summonses.” Read article

10.29.2014 | SchoolBook | The civil liberties union and the group Advocates for Children want the City Council to support legislation — yet to be drafted — that would require the city to report detailed data on how many students are handcuffed. The city already requires the Department of Education to report the number of annual suspensions, which have declined since the law was signed into effect in 2011. Read article

10.28.2014 | Capital New York | Other parents criticized the D.O.E. for not providing appropriate services for their children who struggled with reading. Representatives from Advocates for Children, a leading organization for special education students in New York, called on the D.O.E. Tuesday to improve literacy training in pre-K and up, provide additional screening for disabilities, and provide more information for parents on how to help their special needs students at home, particularly with boosting literacy. Read article

10.27.2014 | Chalkbeat New York | Others see the hearing as an opportunity to get beyond the questions of legal mandates and ask questions about what those students with disabilities are learning. Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children of New York, is waiting to hear about how the department can help schools lift academic achievement for students with disabilities. Just 6 percent of those students hit the state’s proficiency standard on its English and math exams in the 2012-13 school year, compared to 35 percent of students without disabilities. “It’s really time to focus on preparing these schools pedagogically to meet the needs of a wider range of students,” Sweet said. Read article

10.22.2014 | Chalkbeat New York | Advocates for Children of New York Executive Director Kim Sweet said her organization would lend its support to the bill, which she said could spur improvements to services for city students, when it is discussed next week. “We will be testifying in support of the effort to make public the delays in service provision and to hold the DOE accountable for those delays,” Sweet said. Read article

10.15.2014 | Chalkbeat New York | Still, they reflect the new demands that have been placed on schools by the city’s special-education overhaul, which calls for neighborhood schools to serve special-needs students whom they might have referred elsewhere in the past, and to try to place those students in classes alongside their non-disabled peers whenever possible. The new policies had already been in effect for a year when these complaints were filed in 2013 and similar problems continue to crop up today, advocates say. “We’re still getting cases that sound just like ones we were getting two years ago as they were just starting to roll this out,” said Maggie Moroff, special education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children, who backs the city’s new inclusion policies but said many schools still struggle to carry them out. “Something gets lost in translation,” she said. Read article

10.15.2014 | Chalkbeat New York | The city is failing to provide thousands of services to students with disabilities, and the shortfall is worst in some of the city’s poorest and least accessible neighborhoods, new data shows...the process of turning a referral into reality can be frustrating to parents everywhere, who say they must advocate for their child to get the services in school or arrange for outside therapies themselves. In many cases, it takes weeks or months to match a student with a provider. "Already, we’re receiving calls because students had no services in place for the first month," said Maggie Moroff, special education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children New York, which operates a helpline for parents. Read article

10.14.2014 | The New York Law Journal | Finding the right educational services for a child with a disability isn't supposed to require an attorney. But it may when collaboration between parents and public school breaks down. That's when Caroline J. Heller, a partner at Greenberg Traurig, steps in. Heller, 41, heads Greenberg Traurig's pro bono program in New York and specializes in complex commercial litigation. Since 2006, she has devoted most of her volunteer legal work to helping low-income parents maneuver through a maze of federal and state laws to win the educational services to which their disabled children are entitled...Partnering with Advocates for Children in New York, Heller has represented some 20 children with disabilities in dozens of proceedings. In five instances, she appealed administrative decisions to federal court. She won two of those cases, settled another and has two more pending. So important is the issue to her that she joined the board of Advocates for Children in 2012. Read article

10.01.2014 | ABC Eyewitness News | Policy changes are coming to New York City schools after a 5-year-old special-needs student was tied up as part of a punishment for acting out at his Bronx school, and the incident was caught on cell phone video... "In the video, what we see is he's not a danger to himself or others," children's advocate Bernard Dufresne said. "He's sitting there with his hands behind his back, and there are school safety officers surrounding him." View article