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AFC in the News

05.12.2021 | Chalkbeat NY | “We have already heard from families who were told by their schools or [community organizations] that there would not be special education supports available this summer,” said Randi Levine, a special education policy expert at Advocates for Children, adding that community organizations have sometimes struggled to accommodate students with disabilities during previous summer or after-school programs. “What the law requires is for all students to have the accommodations they need.” Read article

05.05.2021 | Bklyner | “It’s been three years, and we’ve been pushing this for a while,” says Erika Palmer, the supervising attorney at AFC who worked on this report. “With the federal and state funding the DOE will be getting, we think it’s a particularly perfect time for them to move forward with this.” 

The advocates are urging the Department of Education to create an office specifically for the city’s foster care children. This comes three years after the Interagency Foster Care Task Force recommended the DOE to do so as well. Read article

05.05.2021 | amNY | Out of the city’s 1.1 million public school students, roughly 6,000 are in the foster care system, according to a recently released report from Advocates for Children of New York and the Legal Aid Society. Most students in foster care are Black and come from the city’s poorest neighborhoods. These students face numerous educational challenges during normal times and have had to face extra hardships during the pandemic, advocates stress. Read article

05.04.2021 | NBC News | After attending in-person classes for four weeks last fall at the Zeta Charter School, across the street from his apartment in northern Manhattan, Raynardo was banished to the school’s virtual classes for failing to wear a mask and follow other Covid-19 safety rules. 

The family’s lawyer, Michael Athy, a staff attorney with New York’s Advocates for Children, said the family applied for a meeting with city education officials to argue that Raynardo’s removal amounted to a punishment for actions related to his disability, but a scheduled meeting was canceled. 

Irizarry could transfer Raynardo to a different school, but she fell in love with Zeta the first time she toured it and that’s where she wants her son to go. “Fair is fair,” she said. “I’m going to fight for him all the way to the end.” Read article

05.04.2021 | NY Daily News | In a report to be released Tuesday, lawyers from Legal Aid Society and Advocates for Children argue for a dedicated DOE foster care office modeled on the agency’s approach to supporting homeless students, which involves a citywide office and borough-based support staff. 

“Someone who knows those laws, how to train schools in it,” said Erika Palmer, an attorney at Advocates for Children. The population of students in foster care is small enough that the office wouldn’t require a major financial investment, advocates add. Read article

04.27.2021 | amNY | “This is not nearly enough to support students citywide,” said Dawn Yuster, director of Advocates for Children of New York’s School Justice Project. According to Yuster, currently only 290,000 New York City public school students attend a school with a full-time social worker and overall there are is about one social worker for every 621 students. ” Furthermore, the City’s plans do not stop the harmful practice of involving law enforcement in response to students in emotional crisis.” Read article

04.26.2021 | SI Live | Dawn Yuster, the director of the School Justice Project for the Advocates for Children of New York, recently told the Advance/SILive.com that the organization’s belief is that the current proposals being made in the City Council are inadequate and that a substantial shift in personnel and resources are essential steps to correct issues in school policing that disproportionately affect children of color. 

“We agree with young people that moving school safety agents from the NYPD to the Department of Education, and then giving them a couple of trainings is just not sufficient,” said Yuster in an interview with the Advance/SILive.com. 

“If you’re really talking about reimagining the role of school safety, you’re not automatically just moving over one type of role and saying everyone should be doing that role continued,” said Yuster. “You’re really rethinking it.” Read article

04.26.2021 | Chalkbeat NY | Students with disabilities have struggled during the pandemic, and about one in four weren’t receiving all of the services they were entitled to during the first half of the school year. The city also faces a federal class-action lawsuit from Advocates for Children, which argues that thousands of students are owed makeup services and that the special education complaint process is too overwhelmed to handle those claims. Read article

04.21.2021 | BronxNet TV | OPEN Host Daren Jaime sits Betty Baez Melo, Early Childhood Education Project Director at Advocates for Children, to talk about the shortage of preschool special education classes for NYC families and AFC's calls for action. Watch video

04.16.2021 | Manhattan Neighborhood Netwok | “Tens of thousands of students are still struggling to access an education because of the pandemic or are at risk of disconnecting from school entirely,” Kim Sweet, executive director for AFC, said in statement Wednesday. “With the DOE poised to get billions of dollars in COVID-19 relief funding, now is the time to put forward a comprehensive plan for an equitable recovery.” 

City schools are expected to receive nearly $7 billion in funds from the federal government’s COVID relief efforts. AFC is specifically calling for the DOE to use that money to provide make-up services and specialized support for students with disabilities, ELLs and students experiencing homelessness. Read article