03.10.2015 | Chalkbeat New York | Special education advocates contend the annual reporting could provide needed context on how the department can improve its assessment and implementation of services for special education students. “We want to find out what the sticky points are in the process. Where are kids not getting services and where are they getting the wrong services?” said Maggie Moroff, special education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children New York. “If the [department] is required to share this information publicly then anyone can draw their own conclusions, they can draw their own advocacy points.” Read article
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03.10.2015 | City Limits | Further efforts to fix special education were made in 2007 and between 2010 and 2012, but these mostly administrative changes did not address the two biggest challenges facing the special education program: the delay in evaluating children for additional services, such as speech or physical therapy, and the delay matching children with the appropriate services. Adding fuel to the fire for advocates is the fact that the problems appear to be compounded for low-income and minority children...While black and Hispanic children make up the majority of children in New York City public schools, they are disproportionately represented in special education programs and classes, says Maggie Moroff, a lawyer with Advocates for Children. Moreover, says Moroff, black and Hispanic children are more likely to be placed in the most restrictive setting, in a District 75 school, schools that only have children with disabilities...For Moroff and other advocates for children with special needs, the whole point of the IEP process and special education services is to ensure that children with disabilities progress, with support, alongside their nondisabled peers. "The goal is to help students with disabilities achieve at the same rate." Read article
03.05.2015 | WHEC Rochester | A report from Advocates for Children of New York recommends dropping two of the regents exams and only testing students in English, math and science. We interviewed one of the authors who also thinks some kids should be assessed for their classroom work instead of taking more standardized tests. The advocate group estimates about 50,000 students don't graduate on-time each year in New York. That translates to $3.5 billion for a lifetime of public assistance. So should requirements be changed so that more kids can get a diploma? Read article
03.03.2015 | Brooklyn Independent Media: BK Live | AFC Staff Attorney Bernard Dufresne appeared on BK Live to discuss school suspensions and proposed changes to the discipline code.
BK Live 3/3/15: School Suspensions from Brooklyn Independent Media on Vimeo.
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
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