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Wayra’s Story

Wayra, who is cognitively gifted and also has significant impairments in speech and language, needed a school that could meet her unique learning needs.

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Impact Litigation

Advocates for Children of New York’s impact litigation is a powerful tool in our efforts to improve education law and to change the systemic practices and policies we have identified within the New York City Department of Education (DOE) that violate state or federal law. Whether we are filing a class action, a  lawsuit on behalf of an individual, or a “friend of the court” amicus brief outlining AFC’s support for a certain legal outcome, the goal is the same: to ensure access to a quality education for all New York City students. Indeed, AFC’s impact litigation has protected the right to learn not only for the thousands of clients we serve each year, but for all of the 1.1 million students in the New York City public schools.

AFC’s impact litigation has improved the quality of countless students’ education and school experiences by:

  • Compelling the DOE to meet its obligation to continue to provide financially eligible students with free or reduced-cost meals after those students were moved from public to non-public schools in order to meet their special needs.
  • Maintaining pressure on the DOE to comply with federal rulings which mandate appropriate evaluation, placement and services to be provided to all New York City students with disabilities.
  • Fighting the push-out of high school students at several New York City high schools.
  • Identifying and addressing the DOE’s persistent failure to implement impartial hearing orders for students with disabilities.
  • Ensuring that children with disabilities who have been suspended or are receiving other school-related discipline are provided with the education to which they are entitled during their absence from school.
  • Fighting for the implementation of procedures to ensure the timely placement of students returning to New York City schools from juvenile justice settings.
  • Strengthening the rights of parents of students with disabilities to participate in the school co-location process.
  • Pushing the DOE to improve policies and procedures for approving school nurses for students with disabilities who require such services to attend school.
  • Fighting for a system by which the DOE would provide make-up services for thousands of students with disabilities who missed out on services and instruction during the period of remote learning.


Important Information for Parents

Nursing Services at School

In fall 2017, Advocates for Children and Greenberg Traurig, LLP filed two complaints against the New York City Department of Education (DOE) in federal court on behalf of four parents whose children did not receive the nursing services and specialized transportation they needed in order to attend school.  The cases in the complaint are representative of a systemic problem—the DOE does not have policies and procedures in place to ensure that all medically fragile students receive required nursing services, resulting in long delays and the exclusion of students from the classroom for months or even years.

If your child needs nursing services at school... 

  • Make sure to get all medical forms, including the medication authorization form (MAF) and/or request for provision of medically prescribed treatment (non-medication), filled out by their doctor and submitted to the DOE as soon as possible.  
  • If your child requires a one-on-one nurse at school or on the bus, make sure that the doctor states your child’s need for a 1:1 nurse on every form, even when the form does not ask for this information.  
  • We also recommend that your child’s doctor submit a separate letter or report detailing your child’s medical and nursing needs.  
  • You must submit new forms each school year.  

If you have problems getting required nursing services in place for your child, call our Education Helpline at (866) 427-6033, Monday through Thursday, 10am to 4pm.

Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBAs) and Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs)

When students with disabilities have behavior issues that interfere with learning, schools need to analyze the problem behavior, in terms of what triggers it and how it can be avoided, and to consider using that analysis to develop a behavioral program through Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBAs) and Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs). As part of the FBA, a school must observe a student’s behavior in different educational settings at different times of day with different people in order to understand what causes the challenging behavior and determine what supports could assist the student to avoid that behavior. Looking at the triggers and causes for the student’s challenging behavior identified in the FBA, a BIP should create a plan so that all members of the school staff consistently address the student’s behavior proactively during the school day to try to prevent the concerning behavior from occurring at all and create a plan for the school to implement if the student exhibits the concerning behavior so that behavior does not escalate.  

If your child has behavioral challenges and is not receiving the appropriate support in school, or if your child has an IEP and has been suspended for more than 10 days, ask your school to conduct a comprehensive FBA and create a BIP. View case details and download our information sheet on FBAs and BIPs [PDF].

Implementation of Impartial Hearing Orders

Under the LV settlement, the DOE is required to send non-implementation notices to each parent whose impartial hearing order has not been properly implemented. This notice is effective proof of non-compliance in a proceeding to enforce the order. If you received a voucher issued from the LV settlement, it must be activated and begun to be used within one year of its issuance, with one additional year to finish using it. Most of the vouchers issued under LV expired January 28, 2011; however, please check the start date of your voucher to confirm expiration.  

If you have questions about non-implementation notices, enforcement of an impartial hearing order, or LV vouchers, please contact Rebecca Shore, Director of Litigation, at (212) 947-9779 ext. 577.

FERPA Notices for Students with Disabilities Suspended from School

Parents of students with disabilities who are suspended from school for more than 10 days should receive a FERPA notice informing them that the DOE may release certain information about their child to AFC in connection with our ongoing prosecution of EB v. Department of Education. Only the information about his or her IEP and the services he or she is receiving at the Alternative Learning Center during the suspension will be disclosed to AFC and will be kept confidential. This notice does not in any way affect the suspension hearing. If you do not want to share this information, simply return the FERPA notice to DOE.  You do not need to do anything if you consent to the disclosure.  

School Co-Locations

The DOE cannot co-locate another school or program at your child’s school without satisfying certain legal requirements. This fact sheet [PDF] answers commonly asked questions about the requirements for school co-location.