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Paige’s Story

Paige, a bright third grade student on the autism spectrum, sat at home for nearly two months waiting for a school placement that would meet her needs. 

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01.23.2013 | New York City’s school bus drivers are striking. A few weeks ago, we urged you to follow the story and get updates from the DOE on alternative options for families that rely on yellow bus service to travel to and from school. AFC is continuing to push the Department of Education for a solution that works for all of our youth; we want to make sure that you are aware of some more specific resources available to help get your children to school during the strike.

  • If you don’t know yet, and need to determine if your child’s bus route has been disrupted by the strike, see here
     
  • For general information about the use of MetroCards and reimbursement for driving or taking a taxi or other car service see here. A few things to note about these options: 
     
    • MetroCards are available for all students who use yellow bus services through school offices. 
       
    • MetroCards are available for some parents of students who use yellow bus services to allow them to accompany their children to and from school. 
      • Parents of all preschool and all school-age children with IEPs are eligible. 
      • Parents of general education students in grades K-6 are eligible. 
         
    • Parents of students in grades K-6 who receive yellow bus services will be reimbursed for driving costs at a rate of 55 cents per mile upon completion of reimbursement forms. 
       
    • Parents of students in grades K-6 who receive yellow bus services may also be reimbursed for cab fares upon completion of reimbursement forms. 
       
    • Families of students who are eligible for yellow bus services who cannot utilize public transportation and cannot afford to pay carfare costs up front and then seek reimbursement should reach out to their school administrator or CSE for further assistance. If the family qualifies for free or reduced price lunch and the child receives specialized transportation, protocols have been set up to arrange to have families’ fees for car services assigned to and paid by the DOE. A list of car service providers is available on the DOE website or by calling the Office of Pupil Transportation’s Customer Service number at (718) 392-8855. Families who can demonstrate financial hardship regardless of Title 1 status should reach out to their schools as well. If that is not successful, contact your Committee on Special Education. 
       
    • Students who have IEPs that require paraprofessional or nursing support for transportation should continue to get those services. Speak with your school directly about this. 
       
    • Students who don’t generally have paraprofessional support on their yellow buses, who are traveling during the strike to school by subway or through a car service, and whose families are, for whatever reason, unable to accompany them, but who still may need an adult other than a parent to travel with them by train or by car, should also speak directly with their schools to determine what arrangements can be made under the circumstances. 
       
  • For information specific to finding an accessible ride, go here
     
  • For a copy of the travel reimbursement forms in multiple languages, see here.

As always, we urge you to continue checking back on the DOE’s website or contacting 311 for updates and to advocate with your schools and central DOE offices if you need assistance (see here for AFC’s tips on advocacy). If you are confused or encounter unexpected obstacles obtaining MetroCards, reimbursement, securing accessible transportation services, or arranging for other forms of assistance, contact the AFC Helpline at 1-866-427-6033 for information and assistance or send specific information about your case to us at josep@advocatesforchildren.org.

01.15.2013 | More than 152,000 New York City students, including 54,000 with special education needs, depend on school buses to get them to their classes each day. In the event of a strike, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) urges the City to take every possible action to ensure that these students do not become victims of a labor dispute and that they have a safe, alternative way to get to and from school... Read full statement

01.14.2013 |  There is a chance of a system wide bus strike that could impact your children's transportation services in New York City in the very near future. We want to make sure that all families, including families of students receiving preschool and school-aged special education services, have the information needed in the event of a strike. We want you to know your options.

The DOE sent a communication from the Chancellor home to families on January 4 detailing the protocols that will go into effect for the duration of the strike, including the use of MetroCards and reimbursement for actual transportation costs. To see that letter in multiple languages, visit the DOE’s website. Yesterday, the Chancellor announced additional measures the City will take in the event of a strike. View that announcement here.

We recognize that for some of you these protocols may not be enough. If you can’t wait for reimbursement or your child needs accessible transportation services, feel free to call the AFC Helpline at (866) 427-6033 for more information.

To get updates as the threat of the strike progresses, we urge you to return to the DOE's website frequently at http://schools.nyc.gov or call 311.

01.11.2013 |  AFC has signed on to a joint issue brief of the Advancement Project, the Alliance for Educational Justice, the Dignity in Schools Campaign, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, entitled "Police in Schools are Not the Answer to the Newtown Shooting." The brief explains why police in schools are not the answer to reducing violence in our communities and classrooms, sheds light on the unintended consequences of placing more police in our schools, and recommends what steps should be taken to ensure that all young people are safe in their schools. As the brief notes, "We have seen increased police presence leading to high numbers of youth – particularly youth of color, students with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students, and gender non-conforming students – being arrested for minor and trivial misbehaviors. We have seen young people who are pushed out of schools by hostile and prison-like school cultures. We have seen time, energy, and resources devoted to the criminalization, not the education, of young people." View the issue brief

01.02.2013 | AFC commends the New York Education Reform Commission for proposing an expansion of high-quality prekindergarten programs. At a time when the city and state are implementing the rigorous Common Core Standards and emphasizing college and career readiness, we cannot afford to have some children start school behind. Providing high-quality prekindergarten programs to low-income children is one of the most effective strategies for improving educational outcomes... Read full statement

12.13.2012 | Today, AFC, the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE), and parents gathered in Albany to speak about the vital role that preschool special education services play in helping preschoolers with delays prepare for kindergarten. Recent media attention around fraud and inefficiencies in the program may threaten its state funding. The state should crack down on fraud. However, the state should not use fraud as a justification for proposing changes that make it harder for young children with delays to access the services they need at the time when these services have the greatest impact.  Read our recommendations in support of the preschool special education program.

12.06.2012 | Today, the DOE proposed changes to the Chancellor’s Regulations to make kindergarten mandatory with certain exceptions. While the proposed regulations include exceptions required by state law, the proposal sends the message that kindergarten is a fundamental part of a child’s education... Read full statement

11.16.2012 | AFC's NYS-TEACHS, our project focusing on students in temporary housing, has a new flier on the educational rights of students who have been displaced by Hurricane Sandy. Download the flier here, and visit www.nysteachs.org for even more resources. 

11.05.2012 | Advocates for Children hopes you and your loved ones made it safely through Hurricane Sandy. The New York City public schools have experienced a number of disruptions due to the storm. We hope the following information and resources will assist you and your family as students transition back to school. 

SCHOOL CLOSURES AND RELOCATIONS

The majority of New York City schools reopened today. A number of schools, however, sustained severe damage from the storm and remain closed. Those schools will be temporarily relocated, and the Department of Education says they will reopen to students on Wednesday, November 7. You can find a list of relocated schools, as well as the schools that will host them, here. In some instances, schools will be relocated across multiple sites. Additional schools remain closed today because they are serving as shelter sites or do not have power. Students in those schools can return on Wednesday, November 7.

All schools will be closed on Tuesday, November 6 for Election Day.

For the most current information on school closures and relocations, visit the Department of Education's website.

STUDENTS LIVING IN TEMPORARY HOUSING

Many families have been displaced by the storm and are currently staying with friends or relatives, or at a motel or shelter. These families are considered homeless under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Under McKinney-Vento, homeless children residing outside their original school district have the right to continue to attend their school of origin OR enroll in a school closer to their temporary residence.

Displaced elementary and middle school students who wish to attend the zoned school for their temporary residence can find their zoned school by visiting schools.nyc.gov or calling 311. If there is no zoned school for an address, you should visit an enrollment office. To find the enrollment office nearest you, visit schools.nyc.gov or call 311. All displaced high school students should visit an enrollment office if they would like to enroll at a high school that is closer to their new residence. Displaced students do not need to provide any documents in order to enroll.

For more information on students' rights under the McKinney-Vento Act, visit the website of Advocates for Children's New York State Technical and Education Assistance Center for Homeless Students (NYS-TEACHS) at www.nysteachs.org or call the NYS-TEACHS toll-free Helpline, 1-800-388-2014.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

If you or your loved ones have been affected by Hurricane Sandy and are in need of assistance, you can register with FEMA for aid. To do so, call (800) 621-3362 or TTY (800) 462-7585 or register online at www.disasterassistance.gov.

The Red Cross has shelters throughout affected areas. Visit their website for a listing or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Distribution locations for food, water, and blankets can be found here.

Information on Disaster Unemployment Assistance is available here.

Additional information about the relief effort can be found at www.nyc.gov, www.governor.ny.gov, and www.fema.gov/hurricane-sandy.

For other questions related to the NYC schools, AFC will try to help. Call the Jill Chaifetz Education Helpline, 1-866-427-6033, Monday to Thursday, 10 am to 4 pm.

10.26.2012 | AFC has a new guide to Section 504! This guide explains what Section 504 is, how it applies to children in public schools, and how to get Section 504 services or accommodations for your child. View the guide