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Micaela is a dual-language learner who is on the autism spectrum and needed an appropriate school placement for kindergarten.

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AFC in the News

12.14.2012 | Public News Service | "Punish the crooks, not the kids." That's the rallying cry of parents and advocates worried about New York's preschool special education programs that are under an investigative microscope. The state comptroller is pursuing operators of special education providers who are accused of wasting, misspending or pocketing money. Advocates of preschool special education say finding fraud is fine. But, Kim Sweet, executive director of the group Advocates for Children of New York, says some new and proposed changes in the wake of the investigations could hinder the funding for services. "We are concerned about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The opportunity to reach children when they're three and four is really very fleeting and if we squander it we're not going to be able to get it back."  Read article

12.13.2012 | Rochester Democrat and Chronicle | Education advocates and parents implored the state Thursday to expand and reform its policies for preschool special-education programs. Several school groups, including the Alliance for Quality Education and Advocates for Children of New York, opposed the state’s decision in November to suspend approval of new special-education service providers or the expansion of existing programs. The state Education Department plans to revise criteria for approving such programs after various instances of fraud were uncovered in recent audits. It is unclear how long the review will take. “The state should punish crooks and should revisit some of its funding practices, but should not make young children with delayed development pay lifelong consequences for the actions of a small group of adults,” according to the groups’ recommendations, which were unveiled Thursday at a news conference near the state Capitol. Read article

12.13.2012 | Wall Street Journal | Some education advocates in New York are out with recommendations to protect preschool special education programs. The groups Advocates for Children of New York and the Alliance for Quality Education are worried that recent reports of costly fraud by some providers could jeopardize the programs. At a news conference in Albany Thursday, they encouraged the state to vigorously audit programs and improve financing procedures. Read article

12.06.2012 | Insideschools.org | Although this change does not exactly make kindergarten mandatory for all five-year-olds, advocates say it sends a message to schools that they can no longer refuse to admit five-year-olds. "We have seen families turned away from schools with the explanation that kindergarten is not mandatory," said Randi Levine, project director for early childhood education at Advocates for Children. "Although children currently have the right to attend to attend kindergarten this change would make it very clear that schools are required to serve kindergarten students and are not permitted to turn them away." Read article

11.29.2012 | Gotham Schools | A+NYC, a new coalition formed earlier this year to shape policy in time for the 2013 mayoral election, launched an online “policy hub” today that includes research briefs on 20 education issues that the group wants to be the focus of debates in months to come. 

The special education brief, authored by staff at Advocates for Children, found research that supports the city’s special education reforms to integrate special needs students into general education classroom settings. But it also suggested that the city was still not doing enough to support students with Individualized Education Plans.  Read article

 11.28.2012 | Timesunion.com| AFC's Randi Levine illustrates, in this published letter to the editor, that although there is a need for the state to work vigorously to identify and punish anyone who is stealing from the preschool special education program, the state must not lose sight of the enormous benefits of this program for New York's young children. By intervening early, when brains have the most elasticity, preschool special education services help young children with developmental delays prepare for school, reducing long-term costs. Read article

11.08.2012 | Insideschools.org | "A lot of schools are getting an overflow of kids," said Jennifer Pringle, director of NYS TEACHS, which runs a statewide hotline for schools and families about the educational rights of homeless children. And as some shelters close and families are relocated to other living situations, she said, "You’re looking at kids who are going to transition through several schools."

Elementary and middle school students may enroll directly at the neighborhood schools closest to where they are staying and high school students should go to an enrollment center to enroll in a school closer to where they are living.

Displaced students also have the right to keep attending school in their home neighborhoods, said Pringle. "You can always keep your kids in the same school," she said. "Being connected to the same teachers and school can be supportive when everything else is chaotic in their lives. But the biggest issue for parents is transportation. Sometimes it's not a viable option for them -- parents can take four to six hours a day to get their children to school."

"There are so many unanswered questions – the city has yet to articulate what its longterm strategy is going to be for these families," Pringle said.  Read article

10.25.2012 | SchoolBook | A City Council hearing on the nitty-gritty issue of how the Education Department organizes its 1,750 schools erupted into accusations that the Bloomberg administration is withholding information that could help parents navigate the immense bureaucracy...The group Advocates for Children of New York submitted testimony saying networks create further confusion for parents when they’re looking for help. Read article

10.22.2012 | New York Daily News | Advocates for special education said that two years of test scores wouldn’t show anything definitively but that the Department of Education has failed to provide data on whether the program works or not. “DOE has been very stingy with the data,” said Advocates for Children executive director Kim Sweet. Sweet and other advocates have called on the city to release data on attendance and suspensions as well as details on what has worked during the reforms — and what has not. Read article

10.12.2012 | WABC-TV News | AFC client Ashton McKenzie was featured on WABC News. Ashton, who immigrated to New York from Jamaica in 2002, is banned from playing football at Dewitt Clinton High School because he aged-out of eligibility due to being unfairly held back in third grade.