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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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09.24.2018 | Chalkbeat New York | Maggie Moroff, a disability policy expert at Advocates for Children, said busing issues often linger through much of the school year. In the past, the education department has reacted defensively, fixing bus issues in individual cases when advocacy groups get involved but rarely pledging to overhaul the system, she said. “We get a lot of students at this time of year who have not been to school yet because they don’t have a bus,” Moroff said. “It’s exciting to hear the chancellor say, ‘it’s unacceptable and we’re going to do something about it.’” Read article

09.12.2018 | Chalkbeat New York | In a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, dozens of advocates and disability-rights groups are calling for $750 million more over the next five years to ensure that at least a third of schools are accessible. Currently only 20 percent of schools are fully accessible, some 30 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a fact that has previously drawn ire from the U.S. Department of Justice. “In an era when there’s so much being done to emphasize inclusion and integration at every level, the fact that there are a number of students out there who can’t get in the door — literally — is a real issue,” said Maggie Moroff, a disability policy expert at Advocates for Children, which signed on to the letter. Read article

09.05.2018 | Politico New York | Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, project director for the Immigrant Students’ Rights Project for Advocates for Children of New York, said that she does not know what type of education the children are receiving. “The big unknown for us is what happens inside the ORR shelters in terms of education, and two, how many of those kids are going to end up in a sponsor or long-term foster care situation,” Rodriguez-Engberg said. “We have no idea.” Read article

09.03.2018 | New York Post | As The Post reported, federal Judge William Pauley III last week let a lawsuit against the Department of Education proceed, ripping the DOE as a “cumbersome and counter-intuitive bureaucracy” whose failure to coordinate nursing and transportation services for four disabled kids forced them to miss class for much of the school year. That put it mildly. Letting kids go without school for so long is beyond outrageous. And while the lawsuit names only four children, Advocates for Children lawyers say “the entire system is broken.” No doubt. Read article

08.29.2018 | New York Daily News | Families of public school students with disabilities won a legal battle Tuesday when a federal court judge dismissed the city’s attempt to throw their suit out on procedural grounds. The lawsuit filed in October 2017 by three city families with the advocacy group Advocates for Children charged the city Department of Education with failing to provide legally mandated services for disabled students such as nursing services in school and on the school bus. Read article

08.29.2018 | New York Post | The city is systematically failing its most medically fragile kids, a judge said Wednesday in blasting the Department of Education. Special needs children are forced to stay home for much of the school year — and sometimes longer — because a “cumbersome and counterintuitive bureaucracy” can’t coordinate their nursing and transportation services, Judge William Pauley III wrote in Manhattan. The judge issued his broadside against the DOE and new Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza in a decision ordering they face a lawsuit on behalf of four severely disabled children. The DOE had tried on technical grounds to wiggle out of the lawsuit, filed by Greenberg Traurig LLP and Advocates for Children of New York. While the suit names just four kids, “We’re claiming that the entire system is broken,” said Daniel Hochbaum of Advocates for Children. Read article

08.20.2018 | New York Daily News | Jacelyn is just one of hundreds of city preschool kids with disabilities who are shut out of the special education classes promised by state law, simply because there aren't enough seats to accommodate them. Figures published by the state Education Department on Aug. 3 indicate that the city is short by 744 seats for kids aged 3 to 5. The funding for the classes is there — but the classes themselves aren't. So hundreds of the city's toddlers with the toughest disabilities, including severe autism, developmental delays, blindness and difficulty hearing, are left out each year. Advocates say it's a critical problem. "Every day that preschoolers with disabilities sit on waitlists, is a missed opportunity," said Randi Levine, policy director for Advocates for Children of New York. "When children don't get the services they need, they fall behind." Read article

07.03.2018 | WNYC | Advocates for students said this is a surface-level solution to a broader issue of overly involving agents and police officers in student discipline and mental health crises. Since 2012, school safety agents have issued fewer summonses and arrests but they are still heavily involved when it comes to responding to instances of a "child in crisis," according to quarterly data released by the NYPD. "We're having a police response to to a mental health issue," said Dawn Yuster, director of the School Justice Project for the non-profit group Advocates for Children. "We really need to take a look at how we're managing that." Read article


07.03.2018 | Chalkbeat New York | In 2016, the city announced it would increasing the number of reading coaches in each school through a new Universal Literacy Program. That may be helping, Moroff said, but some students still find themselves without needed support. “If kids didn’t have private attorneys, then what they ended up doing was just struggling in school and not getting the support they needed, falling farther and farther behind and getting a hodgepodge of services,” said Moroff. Read article

06.12.2018 | Chalkbeat New York | Most of New York City’s schools are not considered fully accessible: entire neighborhoods lack schools that can accommodate students with physical disabilities. And since the city had already exhausted all of its funding to make schools more accessible for the next fiscal year, advocates feared there would be no progress on building upgrades for at least another year. But the budget deal includes $150 million over the next three years to improve access for students with disabilities, which will likely allow for major overhauls of at least 20 school buildings and minor enhancements to dozens of others. “The [education department] is finally getting a grip on what kind of work needs to be done but they were out of money to do it,” said Maggie Moroff, a special education policy expert at Advocates for Children, an organization that pushed for increased funding. “This allows them to do it right away.” Read article