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04.29.2016 | DNA Info | Until this spring, only students with special needs were eligible for the alternative graduation credit program. Disabilities advocates, however, fought to expand it to all students, arguing that schools needed an incentive to bolster these career-focused programs and put more resources into them. “By limiting [this certificate] to students with disabilities, we had concerns that it would stigmatize students with disabilities,” said Abja Midha, a project director at Advocates for Children. 

Midha and other advocates have been pushing the state to create additional avenues for students to get their diplomas ever since it transitioned away from a local diploma option in favor of the Regents test-based diploma. “There was no plan focusing on how do we best serve the needs of all students or recognition that a one-size approach does not fit needs of all students who aren’t good test takers,” she said. Read article

04.20.2016 | Chalkbeat New York | Zeroing in on students’ specific needs is baked into the curriculum. Since every student is somehow behind, teachers focus on making sure students master foundational skills before moving on. ... Brooklyn Frontiers’ approach was recently praised in an Advocates for Children report that featured the school’s literacy program. It “felt much more age appropriate than any other instruction we’ve seen for high schoolers who aren’t reading yet,” said Maggie Moroff, the organization’s special education policy coordinator. “There’s a lot of creativity that’s going on at the teaching level.” Read article

03.31.2016 | NY1 | Student suspensions were down 32 percent this past summer and fall compared to the same period a year earlier. The city claims it's the direct result of a new disciplinary policy ordered by Mayor Bill de Blasio. "It means fewer kids missing class time, and it means more schools have started to use these research-based practices that prevent problem behavior," said Kim Sweet, the executive director of Advocates for Children of New York. Read article

03.31.2016 | New York Daily News | For the first time, the city released data on how many students were transported by EMS from district schools. About 14%, or 601 of the 4,305 transports were related to the emotional or psychological condition of students. “This supports calls for expanding mental health services for students,” said Kim Sweet of Advocates for Children of New York. “(Staff) is calling EMS because they don’t have more appropriate strategies to help students when they act out.” Read article

03.31.2016 | Chalkbeat New York | Advocates have long criticized schools that resort to 911 calls to deal with disorderly students instead of employing other strategies to diffuse conflicts. A 2014 settlement barred schools from making 911 calls before trying to de-escalate the situation. “This first batch of data on EMS referrals supports the call for expanding crisis intervention support for school staff and mental health services for students in our city’s schools,” said Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children of New York. Read article

03.28.2016 | New York Times | Advocates for Children of New York writes in support of amending state law to affirm the obligation of charters to follow disciplinary procedures. Read letter to the editor

03.21.2016 | Chalkbeat New York | Abja Midha, a project director at Advocates for Children who works to establish alternative pathways to graduation for students, said the measures are a step in the right direction. She also agrees it leaves questions for students who struggle to pass Regents exams. “We do think that it’s a good step forward,” Midha said. But she also asked, “What do we do about those student who are in the meantime are struggling with exams but have mastered standards?” Read article

03.04.2016 | Politico New York | There have been rumblings about the department possibly doing away with D75 altogether in recent years, although department officials have always maintained there are no plans to eliminate it. Instead, advocates say, there's a sector-wide call for the district to have more interaction with the 32 so-called "non-specialized" school districts in order to boost inclusion across the system. "The issue for us on D75 is that it's one or the other," said Maggie Moroff, the special education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children, a special education advocacy group. "Students are either in non-specialized schools or they are in D75, and there's very, very little movement back and forth. It's really important to us that there's much more of a fluid relationship." D75 programs boast a great deal of expertise, she said, but naturally lack the academic rigor of the non-specialized schools. Read article

03.02.2016 | DNA Info | “It’s a huge number of kids,” said Maggie Moroff, of Advocates for Children, which works with families to get the services they need for their special needs students. “I wish we were surprised by the numbers, but we weren’t. We get calls every day, and a big portion of our own caseload is for kids not getting any services or not being properly served.” Read article

03.01.2016 | New York Times | The report, released to comply with a law passed by the City Council last year, said that “major deficiencies” in the design of the Special Education Student Information System, which is supposed to track students receiving special education, “continue to affect the D.O.E.’s ability to reliably report specific compliance metrics.” “That for us is one of the biggest takeaways,” said Maggie Moroff, the special-education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children, which helps at-risk students. The lack of reliable data is “hugely important,” she said, “because you need the data to figure out where the holes in the service delivery are.” Read article