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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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03.28.2018 | Chalkbeat New York | Still, those learning English will be required to pass another four exams, including an English Regents exam, which could limit their ability to use the new option, said Ashley Grant, a supervising staff attorney at Advocates for Children. “We’d still like to see more pathways that don’t rely on high-stakes assessments,” Grant said. Read article

03.15.2018 | New York Times | The second report released on Thursday went further. That paper, released by Advocates for Children of New York and the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, called on Mr. de Blasio to hire more trained social workers to work in shelters — family assistants need neither a college degree nor any formal training in social work or education, the paper said. It also asked that the education department create a deputy chancellor’s office to focus specifically on highly mobile students. “Currently, the D.O.E.’s Students in Temporary Housing Program is buried under the vast and varied portfolio of the Deputy Chancellor for Operations,” the report said. “This arrangement makes it unlikely that students in temporary housing will get the attention or support they need.” Read article

03.15.2018 | Chalkbeat New York | The city employs family assistants who are supposed to work with families living in shelters and keep an eye on student attendance. But the audit found that during the 2015-16 school year, the education department deployed just 110 assistants to oversee 32,243 students living in shelters — a ratio of 293 students per family assistant. On Thursday, the advocacy group Advocates for Children released a separate report that called for the city to boost the number of social workers to help students in shelters (family assistants, by contrast, are not required to have formal training in social work or education). Read article

03.15.2018 | New York Daily News | A report published Thursday by the nonprofit Advocates for Children of New York found that the city's offices to support homeless kids are understaffed. It called on the city to add at least 107 social workers dedicated to helping homeless students access services and succeed in school. In 2017 the city dedicated $10.7 million to programs for homeless students, but continued funding was not included in a preliminary budget released by de Blasio last month. Read article

03.02.2018 | City Limits | Many of the children suffer from significant learning disabilities or emotional issues; nearly all have struggled in school. “They have endured a disproportionate amount of trauma,” says Dawn Yuster, director of the School Justice Project at Advocates for Children of New York. “It’s not uncommon for our court-involved youth to have seen violent crime,” Yuster adds. “For them to have witnessed that has a significant impact.” Read article

02.20.2018 | The 74 Million | To Kim Sweet, executive director of the nonprofit Advocates for Children of New York, the transition gives de Blasio an opportunity to elevate the needs of disabled students. “In my experience, chancellors tend not to focus on special education in their first term, if they get to it at all,” she said. ”It would be great to see a chancellor who makes education of students with disabilities a top priority from the outset.”

Advocates said that many of the issues Fariña faced on special education predated her tenure or are nationwide problems, such as a shortage of qualified special ed teachers. They are also complicated by the sheer size of the city’s 1.1 million–student public school system, serving nearly 200,000 special needs kids. “There is no other school system in this country that is as big or complex as NYC’s,” Sweet said. “That makes it challenging to look at other districts that seem to do a better job with students with disabilities and simply export their strategies here.” Read article

02.13.2018 | Chalkbeat New York | Advocates said the new reporting requirement would be a powerful tool for accountability. “To get this would be a huge win,” said Maggie Moroff, a special-education policy expert at Advocates for Children. “It would allow us and other advocates to know where to drive our advocacy and allow the [education department] to know where to send support to schools.” Read article

02.13.2018 | The 74 Million | “We’re glad to see that the percentage of students fully receiving special education services increased from last year, but 48,000 students with disabilities are still going without special education services they’re entitled to receive under the law,” said Randi Levine, policy coordinator for Advocates for Children of New York... While it’s disappointing that the timeliness of IEP meetings hasn’t really improved, Levine said, the numbers are true to the experience of her organization. “We get calls every day from families who are struggling to get their children the evaluations they need, the IEP meetings they need, and ultimately the services and special education instruction they need,” she said. Read article

01.31.2018 | City Limits | In the 2016-17 school year, between 31 and 35 homeless preschool students in New York City were receiving special education services, from 17 in the Bronx to none in Staten Island, according to data from NYS Student Information Repository System (SIRS). The data was released by NYS-TEACHS, a project from Advocates for Children, an organization supporting NYC children and groups susceptible to discriminatory policies and actions... [H]omeless students could inadvertently lose out on special education services when families confront a complex evaluation process for assessing the need for special ed coupled with the instability inherent to life in the shelter system. “It’s easy for children to slip through the cracks and not get timely evaluation,” she says, citing the time-consuming process of getting an Individualized Education Program, or IEP, the legal document that stipulates the services a school must provide for a child in special education. “For preschool students in general, we do see backlogs and delays at the stage of evaluation and at the stage of IEP development. There are particular challenges for certain populations,” including homeless families. Read article

01.16.2018 | WBAI Radio | Equal Justice Works fellow Gena Miller spoke with WBAI Radio's The Morning Show about bullying in New York City public schools, particularly as it affects LGBTQ students. Listen to the segement: