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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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AFC in the News

03.11.2019 | Education Week | Maggie Moroff, the special education policy coordinator for New York's Advocates for Children, said the program "didn't allow anyone to know if any one student was getting their services in a timely or complete manner." Parents were sometimes waiting weeks to see updated individualized education programs for their children because it took so long for school staff to enter new information into the system, she said...Moroff said that the city must continue monitoring students in special education while making plans to replace its current system. "As flawed as the data collection with SESIS was, they were working on making it better," she said. "We want to make sure this interim period is a thoughtful period, and that there's data collection that continues as well." Read article

03.08.2019 | New York Daily News | The mayor’s $92 billion budget — unveiled in February — is the biggest in the city’s history, and it comes at a time when there are more homeless students than ever, making it vital that the mayor fund the social workers, said Advocates for Children of New York Policy Director Randi Levine. “We don’t understand why the mayor is playing budget games with these crucial supports,” Levine said. “This is not the time to pull away from the support — we need the city to increase services for students.” Read article

02.27.2019 | Chalkbeat New York | Success Academy charter schools and the New York City education department have violated the civil rights of students with special needs, an investigation by state officials found. The charter network failed to provide required services to students, changed the special education placement of children without giving parents the opportunity for input, and refused to follow orders issued at special education administrative hearings, according to the state... The state investigation was prompted by a complaint filed in November by the advocacy group Advocates for Children and a private law firm. “This decision makes clear that students do not give up their civil rights when they enter a charter school, and parents do not give up their voice in their children’s education,” Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children, said in an emailed statement. Read article

02.27.2019 | Politico New York | The state Education Department has determined that Success Academy and the city's Department of Education violated the civil rights of students with disabilities following an investigation into allegations made by the group, Advocates for Children of New York... "The decision reaffirms what we knew to be true ... which is that charter schools have an obligation and the same obligation as traditional public schools to serve students with disabilities and in this case, the New York State Education Department found that Success Academy did not,” Rebecca Shore, AFC’s director of litigation, told POLITICO. "Their schools did not meet the obligations for students with disabilities and as a result violated students' rights and parents' rights." Read article

02.27.2019 | Gothamist | Advocates for Children publicized the findings of a State Education Department investigation today, following a complaint the advocacy group had filed in November. The complaint alleged that Success Academy was not meeting the Individualized Education Programs of students with disabilities, in some cases failing to provide legally required testing accommodations and special education instruction. The charter network was also accused of shuffling students out of special education classes at the last minute, and ignoring administrative hearing directives to return children to those classes. Read article

02.21.2019 | Chalkbeat New York | In one of the biggest changes, the city would have to begin reporting whether individual schools are complying with students’ Individualized Education Programs, also known as IEPs, including what proportion of students are missing out on required services such as speech or physical therapy. That could give parents a new tool to sort between schools as well as offer education officials a sense of where more resources are needed. “You can’t hold the school system accountable if you don’t know what’s going on,” said Maggie Moroff, a disability policy expert at Advocates for Children, which worked with lawmakers to craft the bills. Read article

02.07.2019 | Chalkbeat New York | Once again, De Blasio’s preliminary budget doesn’t renew funding for 69 social workers who provide support services to homeless students living in shelters under the Bridging the Gap program. The funds for this program will expire by the end of this school year. In the past, de Blasio has excluded this pool of funding — about $14 million in the current budget —  and later added the money back into the final budget proposal after backlash from advocates... “We are appalled that the Mayor continues to play budget games with critical supports for students living in shelters,” said Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York, in a statement.  “With more than 100,000 students experiencing homelessness, the City should be increasing the number of Bridging the Gap social workers, not putting the continuation of the program in jeopardy.” Read article

01.23.2019 | NY1 | The Department of Education acknowledges that there is, once again, a backlog of overdue payments for special education providers. In October, NY1 exposed how the office responsible for paying special education providers had amassed a staggering stockpile of unpaid invoices, many going back five, six, seven months. Therapists described defaulting on their mortgage, student loan and car payments as they waited to be paid for their work. Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza called the situation unacceptable and vowed to fix it. Three weeks later, the city said it was all caught up on 7,000 overdue payments. But now, the delays are back. Advocates for Children of New York says the volume of complaints increased significantly again this month. "These are payments which the Department of Education has been ordered to pay by an administrative hearing officer and they're still not paying them," said Rebecca Shore of Advocates for Children. Read article

01.11.2019 | Chalkbeat New York | But with reduced staff and a revised mission, special education advocates are skeptical. They worry changes will actually make it harder for families to find quality advice, potentially leading to gaps in needed therapies or students’ education during crucial developmental years. “More young children are being identified earlier in life as having developmental delays and disabilities, so this is not the time to be cutting back on staff to provide access to this information,” said Randi Levine, policy director for Advocates for Children, an organization that works with families with special needs. Read article

01.10.2019 | Chalkbeat New York | Immigration advocates, who have pushed for New York to pass such a law for years, welcome the bill. “Our students from immigrant families are facing fear and uncertainty in many aspects of their lives,” said Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, director of the Immigrant Students’ Rights Project for Advocates for Children of New York, in an emailed statement. “New York State should play a leadership role and show its commitment to immigrant students by passing the DREAM Act.” Read article