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Joseph’s Story

Joseph was born with a significant visual impairment that affected every aspect of his early development – from crawling to communicating his needs.  Having been born premature, he also had delays in his speech and social/emotional skills.

At first he was fortunate in his school placement:  he attended an integrated preschool program focused on helping children just like him.  His teachers and service providers strongly recommended that Joseph remain in this program until kindergarten.

Unfortunately, an administrator at the Department of Education ignored these recommendations and decided to remove Joseph from the preschool program in the middle of the year, explaining that Joseph’s visual impairment – he is blind in one eye and significantly impaired in his other – was not severe enough to warrant this placement. 

Joseph’s mother came to Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) extremely worried about moving Joseph from a full-day, full-year, specialized preschool program to no program at all.  AFC quickly intervened to keep Joseph in preschool.  Following a school hearing, the Department of Education hearing officer reinstated Joseph in his program and increased his services, noting that this case was “an example of the Department of Education working at its worst.”

A note from Joseph’s teacher at the time sums up the impact AFC’s advocacy has made in Joseph’s life:

“I just wanted to let you know that Joseph has flourished over the past six months! At his recent turning five meeting, we determined he will be ready for a general education setting next year! Thank you for working so diligently on his case and securing this last year of support services.  I’m certain he wouldn’t have made this progress if you hadn’t worked so hard to provide him the opportunity to work and achieve!”