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Micaela’s Story

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

11.24.2020 | Gothamist | Advocates for Children filed the lawsuit on behalf of seven parents and one legal guardian of special education students in federal court on Monday, noting that learning loss began back in March, when the onset of the pandemic triggered a systemwide shutdown of public schools across New York City. This shifted all students to remote learning, including District 75, which provides instruction to 25,000 special education students. 

Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates For Children, noted that tens of thousands of students have been impacted by the lack of compensatory services. She noted that many of these students have lost "the progress they had made." Read article

11.24.2020 | Bronx News 12 | The lawsuit was filed last week against both the city’s Department of Education and the state Education Department by a nonprofit called Advocates for Children. It claims that students with special needs have not received an appropriate education.

"I want to get him as much help as I can get - tutoring, extra services - because he is going to need it. We are talking about his future and the future of other kids as well. What this lawsuit seeks is a system for the Department of Education to provide compensatory services to students with disabilities who lost either instruction or services during remote learning,” a mother of a 15-year-old boy with autism tells News 12. Watch video

11.24.2020 | NY Post | Erendira Landa says she and her autistic, Spanish-speaking son David, 15, have faced endless hurdles in adjusting to home learning. Landa struggled and eventually found a translator for his classes, but she still hasn’t found a speech or behavioral therapist who speaks Spanish and is available after school. 

“It’s been very difficult because the related services he’s entitled to have not been met and the one-to-one setting that he’s supposed to have in these special programs he’s not been able to be provided because there is no one by his side,” Landa told The Post. 

“The school is helping as much as they can online, but they cannot provide a person on the other side of the screen,” Landa explained. Read article

11.23.2020 | The CITY | The federal class action filing by the nonprofit Advocates for Children identifies eight students as complainants who have missed out on legally mandated services during remote learning for a host of reasons — including iPad shortages and the challenge of delivering services such as physical therapy remotely.

The suit also cites a lack of translation and interpretation services for students and parents as an obstacle.

The case argues that the city Department of Education’s current hearings system — under which parents can file complaints to reclaim the counseling, physical therapy and more their kids have been missing out on — is too complicated and costly for most families to navigate. 

They say the log-jammed system, which fielded nearly 11,000 complaints in the 2019-2020 school year that took an average of 259 days to resolve, would inevitably move too slowly given the expected flurry of parents seeking services for their children.

“This is a time when students can’t wait — they’ve already almost lost a year of appropriate services,” said Rebecca Shore, director of litigation for Advocates for Children.

“They can’t wait any longer and they can’t wait until the end of the pandemic for the DOE to start addressing this issue,” she added. “The DOE needs to start addressing it now.” Read article

11.23.2020 | NY Daily News | “Tens of thousands of students with disabilities have gone months without appropriate educational services, with many losing the progress they had made,” said Kim Sweet, the executive director of Advocates for Children, the nonprofit that filed the suit along with the law firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP. 

“These students should receive the compensatory services they need as quickly as possible, without having to jump through cumbersome legal hurdles that will favor families able to afford lawyers and leave economically disadvantaged students behind,” Sweet said. Read article

11.23.2020 | NY1 | Hours after the mayor's briefing, advocates filed a class action suit on behalf of the city's more than 200,000 students with disabilities, alleging they have not received mandated services like speech therapy or counseling, or proper teaching during remote learning. The suit asks a judge to require the city to create a system for delivering make-up services to these children. The suit charges that some students with disabilities never received iPads or laptops, or went months without counseling or the support of paraprofessionals. Read article

11.23.2020 | Politico (Pro) | Parents of students with disabilities in New York City hit the Department of Education and the State Education Department with a class action lawsuit on Monday, citing a “pervasive failure” to provide mandated educational services as Covid-19 rages on. 

In the lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of New York, families accused the agencies of falling short of legal obligations to provide “free appropriate public education” to students with disabilities since the public health crisis began this spring, referring to services mandated by their Individualized Education Programs. 

“As a result, these students have been unable to participate meaningfully in remote learning and have lost the opportunity to make educational progress,” the suit reads. “Many have regressed.” Read article

11.20.20 | NY Post | “We are deeply concerned about the decision to close schools on such short notice,” said Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates for Children of New York, a group focused on providing resources for disabled children and low-income families. 

“Children who had been developing social and language skills have taken a step back and started to have more tantrums to communicate their needs. This is a very challenging time for them.” 

Levine said she hopes the mayor and the governor “will work together to restart in person instruction as quickly as possible for children with disabilities, English language learners and children who are homeless.” Read article

11.19.2020 | The CITY | “It’s clear that the Department of Education is working with ACS to make improvements in access and quality of education,” said Dawn Yuster, director of the School Justice Project at the nonprofit Advocates for Children of New York. 

But she worries about what another school shutdown will mean for kids in city lock ups. 

“We could be in dire straits in terms of academic access for kids in juvenile detention because of limitations to technology, when the Department of Education is not allowed to be present in a facility.” Read article

11.19.2020 | Politico | The coalition, New Yorkers for Racially Just Public Schools, is unveiling “A People’s Agenda for Education and Racial Justice,” centered on issues such as police-free schools, culturally responsive education and getting rid of school admissions policies they say fuel school segregation — a pervasive problem in one of the most segregated school systems in America. 

The coalition’s steering committee is made up of the Alliance for Quality Education, IntegrateNYC, the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, the NYU Metro Center and the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice. It's made up of 25 member groups including the New York Immigration Coalition, Advocates for Children of New York, Teens Take Charge and the Parent Action Committee. Read article