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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

11.23.2020 | 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

11.18.2020 | The 74 | The students who have lost contact with their schools also remain a matter of concern for Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates for Children, a nonprofit fighting on behalf of the city’s underserved youth. On Tuesday, her group published a statement saying, “Educating children is one of the most essential services the City provides, and the Mayor should do everything possible to keep schools open while keeping school communities safe.”

While Levine said students are better equipped now than they were in March, she explained that “we’re still very concerned about students who don’t have the technology to participate in remote learning.”

Levine noted that, as in March, the transition to all-remote will disproportionately undermine the learning process of students with special needs. It’s unclear whether Learning Bridges, a program that’s been serving the children of essential workers several days a week since the summertime, will be available to special education students.

“Going to no school would be another big change, and some of these students are just starting to make progress after months of learning loss,” she said. “We hope the city will prioritize getting in-person services for students with disabilities who have struggled with remote learning. But we have not yet heard of any plans for providing in-person services during a systemwide shutdown.” Read article

11.12.2020 | WBAI | Dawn Yuster, director of Advocates for Children of New York's School Justice Project,  joins Bob Gangi on "Justice Matters" to talk about police-free schools and sending mental health professionals, not cops, to New Yorkers experiencing mental crisis. Listen to the episode 

11.10.20 | The 74 | Advocates for special education students are especially interested in the class size numbers for those learners. At an Oct. 23 City Council hearing, Advocates for Children testified that the DOE had violated state limits on class sizes for special needs students in self-contained classes, and that they had received complaints about the size of inclusion classes, where special needs students learn alongside their mainstream peers. Read article

11.07.2020 | NY Post | The news was welcomed by Advocates for Children, a nonprofit organization that has highlighted the Wi-Fi problem for needy kids. 

“We should explore all options because the alternative is children missing out on school this year, and that is not acceptable,” said Randi Levine, the group’s policy director. Read article