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09.03.2014 | Chalkbeat | School discipline has been under scrutiny for years, with advocates repeatedly sounding the alarm about high suspension rates among black and Hispanic students and students with disabilities. A coalition of advocates led by retired Chief Judge of New York Judith Kaye made additional recommendations in 2013, and the discipline code—which outlines the city’s school discipline policies and students’ rights—has already changed over the last few years to emphasize alternatives to suspension....Nick Sheehan, who works on the School Justice Project at Advocates for Children, said advocates are still anticipating big-picture changes. “Our understanding, from what they’ve said publicly, is that they’re looking to make a bigger announcement and hopefully including a leadership team to look at school discipline and safety writ large,” he said, referencing the major recommendation of the 2013 report. Still, he said, “We’re disappointed they haven’t moved a little quicker on this.” Read article

08.27.2014 | Associated Press | About 600 Department of Education sites will be used for pre-K sites, but since public schools don't have the space to accommodate all the new students, more than 1,100 community-based organizations like day cares and religious schools will also host the programs. De Blasio has promised that every classroom will be inspected by the first day of school, which has reassured some advocates. "This is a really ambitious undertaking, and we don't expect that everything will go smoothly," said Kim Sweet, executive director of the Advocates for Children of New York. "Of course, the safety of the children is critical." Read article

08.04.2014 | Time Warner Cable News, Binghamton | For one Binghamton teen, obstacles are just something you learn to overcome. Machella Raymond didn't have the easiest childhood....but that didn't stop her. After spending years in foster care and being homeless, she graduated high school with honors and received a scholarship...Machella's visit to the White House was part of the first lady's "Reach Higher" initiative to encourage young people to pursue their dreams through college. The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth and Advocates for Children in New York sponsored her participation. Read article

07.28.2014 | New York Times | Most of the 190,000 special-education students in the city — and roughly 12,000 being educated privately at public expense — are not as severely disabled. Told of Dylan’s case, supporters of special-needs families and others said they could not understand why the city would fight it, because Dylan’s family had wanted to place him in one of a handful of private schools where the state picks up most of the tab. (Those schools serve about two-thirds of the 12,000 students.) But some said it was an example of how litigious the city had become. “Unfortunately, every day, our office hears from parents who have to fight with the D.O.E.,” said Randi Levine, policy coordinator at Advocates for Children of New York. “Too often we see a level of antagonism and resistance to helping children that can have harmful consequences.” Read article

07.02.2014 | Student Press Law Center | Advocates for Children of New York, which signed the amicus brief alongside SPLC, is pleased with the ruling, said Dawn Yuster, the group’s School Justice Project director. “Advocates for Children strongly supports positive approaches to discipline, such as ones that improve the school climate and keep kids out of jail,” Yuster said. “Both laws like this one and zero tolerance policies that push kids out of the classroom do nothing to respond to what causes bullying.” Read article

07.02.2014 | Capital New York | The Department of Education faces a daunting challenge in accommodating a large and growing population of special needs students, statistics in an Independent Budget Office report released Tuesday revealed...“These numbers remind us that students with special needs are not a minor sub-population,” said Kim Sweet, the executive director of Advocates For Children. “In fact, they’re a significant segment of the student body in New York City that we need to focus on educating well.” Read article

07.01.2014 | Chalkbeat New York | The percentage of English language learners with a disability is similar to the overall share of city students with a disability. But advocates said it was still alarming to see the numbers. “These students are often among the most poorly served in the system,” said Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children. “With such significant numbers, this group really merits more attention from policy makers.” Read article

06.27.2014 | Chalkbeat New York | According to Nick Sheehan, who works on the School Justice Project at Advocates for Children, safety transfers are “really challenging to get.” The biggest stumbling block, he said, is the required police report, which the city’s regulations list among the required documents for a safety transfer. Parents might not have time to file a report, he said, and “historic distrust” between the police and students’ communities might also discourage families. An even bigger problem, he said, is that students might feel unsafe at school even before a crime has been committed against them. “Sometimes the safety concern doesn’t rise to a level of criminal activity [that would be filed in a police report], it’s just ongoing bullying and harassment,” Sheehan said. Read article

06.24.2014 | New York Times | “This is a good initial step towards reducing the unnecessary frustration that parents of students with special needs face as they struggle to find an appropriate education for their children,” Kim Sweet, the executive director of Advocates for Children of New York, said in a statement. “Now we have to make sure they follow through.” Read article

06.24.2014 | Chalkbeat New York | While some advocates commended the announcement as a step in the right direction, they pointed out that it is not a new law, but a policy change that must be enacted. The education department has not yet created any new regulations to codify the new policies, officials said. “I’m eager to see how this will all be implemented,” said Rebecca Shore, litigation director at Advocates for Children. “I hope this announcement will result in less litigation and a less frustrating process for parents.” Read article