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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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05.15.2020 | Chalkbeat NY | “For these families, these last few weeks have been exponentially more difficult,” said Maggie Moroff, a disability policy expert at Advocates for Children. “The parents are being parent, teacher, service provider, healthcare worker to their children right now at the same time they’re trying to do their jobs or take care of their other children.” Read article

05.14.2020 | Gothamist | “In light of the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic, the state needs to extend the age of eligibility and ensure schools have sufficient resources to give this relatively small but exceptional group of young people the last chance they need to earn a high school diploma,” said Ashley Grant, Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma coordinator, in a press release Monday. Read article

05.14.2020 | Chalkbeat NY | Despite the downward trends, the city should continue reducing suspensions and expanding restorative justice and mental health programs, said Dawn Yuster, who directs a program on student justice issues at Advocates for Children.

“While the downward trend in suspensions and EMS transports of students who have emotional conditions is positive, thousands of students continue to be removed from class losing valuable instruction time that is never recouped,” she said. Read article

05.13.2020 | Chalkbeat NY | “We are gravely concerned about preschoolers with disabilities who have a legal right to a preschool special education class but do not have one,” Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children of New York, said in an emailed statement. “Hundreds of preschoolers with disabilities were sitting at home prior to the pandemic and may have nowhere to go to school when buildings reopen.”

Pre-K for students with special needs is primarily funded by the state, but families and advocates point out that the city has promised a seat to every 4-year-old in the city who wants one. Read article

05.12.2020 | Spectrum News | More than 100 education and advocacy groups wrote a letter to the New York State Education Department asking that students that would normally age out of high school, be allowed to return in the fall.

“There are students throughout the state who are living in homeless shelters and families that are in small apartments that may not have the space that they need to sit in front of a computer or a quiet place to study,” Ashley Grant, a Supervising Attorney at Advocates for Children of New York explained.  Read the article

04.30.2020 | Chalkbeat NY | Matamoros, working with the group Advocates for Children, eventually won the right to send her son to a state-approved private school. But none of the schools she toured had bilingual services.

Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, director of the Immigrant Students Rights Project at Advocates for Children, believes the city and state should bolster partnerships with universities, as well as loan repayment and recruitment programs, to encourage more people to pursue bilingual special education. Read article

04.29.2020 | NY Post | Dawn Yuster, with the nonprofit Advocates for Children of NY, urged the first lady and chancellor to consult with experts before finalizing their plans.

“As the city charts out a plan to address student mental health, it is more dire than ever that the administration launch a program targeted to students with significant mental health challenges pre-dating, and exacerbated by, the trauma of the pandemic who require a higher level of integrated services to succeed in school,” said Yuster,

“A diverse group of students, educators, parents, and advocates stand ready to work with the administration to advance this critical budget priority that will fill this significant service gap,” she said. Read article

04.28.2020 | Chalkbeat NY | Advocates for Children, which provides legal and other services to families navigating the school system, said it’s most likely that the students marked as needing improvement are those who are already struggling and are lacking the same level of support, such as students in temporary housing, overcrowded apartments, and those with disabilities or who are still learning English.

“We are deeply concerned about the impact this policy will have on students who — through no fault of their own — have been unable to engage in remote learning,” said Kim Sweet, executive director of the organization. “They should not be punished for falling behind simply because their family cannot afford a computer, high-speed internet access, or the other resources necessary to rapidly transition to online schooling.” Read article

04.28.2020 | NY Daily News | Advocates for Children took the opposite view, saying the new policy punishes students who haven’t been able to participate in remote learning through no fault of their own.

“The students whose academic records will reflect that they ‘Need Improvement’ and who will be unable to earn course credit this semester will be those who are already marginalized and whose families are already being hit hardest by COVID-19," the group said in a statement. Read article

04.28.2020 | Courthouse News Service | “Thousands of students have had to wait weeks to receive a remote learning device from the DOE; they should not be punished for falling behind simply because their family cannot afford a computer, high-speed internet access, or the other resources necessary to rapidly transition to online schooling,” Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children, said in an emailed statement Tuesday.

Sweet called for an “intensive” support structure and a long-term plan that would not leave behind the students who have more difficulty with online learning, as well as allowing students more time to complete their degrees. Read article