01.24.2017 | Today, Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), issued the following statement regarding the release of the Preliminary Budget: “We were glad to see Mayor de Blasio include increased funding for the City’s special education data system in the Preliminary Budget. It is critical that the City have a data system that can track whether and when required services are provided to students with disabilities. A reliable data system will allow the City to identify where students are not receiving mandated services and to take the necessary steps to ensure that students receive the educational support they need and is guaranteed by federal law.” View statement as a PDF
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01.17.2017 | Today at 5pm, the United States Senate will begin the confirmation hearing of Betsy DeVos, who was nominated to be the next U.S. Secretary of Education. Advocates for Children of New York believes that this position requires extensive experience with public education and a strong record of working to strengthen public schools, which serve the vast majority of our nation’s children. Ms. DeVos does not have sufficient experience with public education. She has focused her education advocacy on opposing school accountability measures that help protect students’ rights and on supporting school vouchers that divert funding from public schools. Therefore, AFC opposes her nomination and sent a letter to New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand [PDF], urging them to oppose her confirmation. See our letter for more information, and call your Senators and ask them to vote against confirming Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. You can call 202-224-3121 to be connected to your Senators’ offices.
01.06.2017 | Advocates for Children has a new fact sheet on bullying, harassment, and discrimination based on race, national origin, immigration status, or religion. The fact sheet, which explains NYC Department of Education policy and what parents can do if their children experience bullying or discrimination, is currently available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Bengali, and French [PDF]. Additional translations coming soon.
12.08.2016 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) is releasing a report, Obstacles and Opportunities: Creating Career and Technical Education Pathways for Students with Disabilities [PDF], which analyzes access to high school-level career and technical education (CTE) programs for students with disabilities in New York State. In 2015, less than 50% of students with disabilities graduated from high school in four years, compared to about 83% of general education students. The new report, which analyzes public data on outcomes for students in CTE programs, finds that more than 75% of students with disabilities who completed at least two-thirds of a CTE program went on to graduate, compared to about 90% of general education students—effectively cutting the graduation gap in half for these students.
The paper finds that although students with disabilities made up about 15% of the class that was expected to graduate in 2015, they comprised only 11.6% of students reported to have completed most of a CTE program. Based on data findings and interviews with professionals, special education advocates, and parents of students with disabilities, AFC recommends changes to policy and practice to address barriers to CTE.
12.01.2016 | Advocates for Children recently submitted “friend of the court” briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court in two cases, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District and Stacy Fry and Brent Fry, et al. v. Napoleon Community Schools, et al.
Endrew F. presents the important question of what makes an education “appropriate” as guaranteed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP drafted the brief on behalf of AFC. View the amicus brief [PDF]
In Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools, AFC and the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) submitted an amicus brief in support of petitioners Stacy and Brent Fry, the parents of a student with cerebral palsy who was prescribed a service dog to aid her with everyday tasks. The brief argues that parents and children should not be required to exhaust the IDEA’s administrative remedies when the relief is available only under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act and not the IDEA. View the amicus brief [PDF]
10.31.2016 | Today, the City released 2015-2016 school year data pursuant to the Student Safety Act showing the number of suspensions totaled 37,647, which is a decrease by approximately 16% compared to the previous year and by almost 46% compared to five years ago. Despite these improvements, Black students and students with disabilities continued to be disproportionately suspended from school.
In the 2015-2016 school year, Black students were suspended at 3.61 times the rate of White students—down from 3.94 in the prior year. In the same year, although students with disabilities comprised about 18.7% of the student population, they comprised 38.6% of the total number of suspensions—up from 38.2% in the prior year.
While the total number of suspensions decreased, the data released today reveals that the number of teacher’s classroom removals increased to a total of 11,943, nearly 5% over the prior year. The City also publicly released for the first time the number of students in temporary housing suspended from school and the number of students suspended more than once in the 2015-2016 school year. Students in temporary housing made up 10% of the student population, but accounted for 12% of the total number of suspensions. 25.24% of students suspended were suspended more than once.
“We are pleased to see the numbers continue to go down. We hope to see the City make a long-term commitment—with the funding and the inter-agency collaboration to back it up—to continue to move from a punitive and exclusionary approach to discipline to a preventive and restorative one, while ensuring that all children have the social-emotional supports they need and eliminating disparities by race and disability in disciplinary practices,” said Kim Sweet, the Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York.
NYPD data for the third quarter of 2016 also released today shows significant racial disparities in students arrested, handcuffed, and issued summonses. Additionally, the data reveals a mismatch in city agency intervention: 25% of police interventions in schools had nothing to do with law enforcement, but rather involved students in emotional distress.
Dawn Yuster, Director of AFC’s School Justice Project, said, “The Administration should immediately adopt and implement the Mayor’s Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline’s recommendations on mental health—namely, by launching a pilot program providing a comprehensive mental health service continuum in 20 high-needs schools, including using hospital-based clinics and providing whole-school Collaborative Problem Solving training to support these schools.”
10.12.2016 | This November and December, the New York Region 1 Parent Training and Information Center (PTIC) Collaborative is presenting a webinar series on transition to adulthood for students with disabilities! Topics include: graduation requirements and diploma options; supporting student participation in the IEP process; available resources for transition; and services for individuals with developmental disabilities.