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Valerie’s Story

When AFC first met 12-year-old Valerie last year through our partnership with SCO Family of Services, a child welfare and social services agency, she was struggling in her public middle school. Despite receiving special education services since kindergarten, Valerie spent years making little academic progress. Her mother repeatedly expressed concerns, but each year, rather than provide additional supports or a more appropriate school, the Committee on Special Education (CSE) would lower Valerie’s promotional criteria.

At an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting in sixth gradea meeting the school first attempted to hold without properly notifying her mother or service providersthe Department of Education (DOE) maintained that Valerie’s services were going well and her only other option would be a school in District 75, the city-wide district serving students with the most significant disabilities, where the academics would be way below her level.

With AFC’s assistance, Valerie’s mother placed her at the School for Language and Communication Development (SLCD), a private special education school, and we filed an impartial hearing request to secure her tuition. At a new IEP meeting, AFC successfully argued that Valerie’s old middle school was inappropriate and SLCD could better meet her learning needs, and the DOE settled the case. Since starting at SLCD in January, Valerie’s mom reports that she has “taken a 180 degree detour”: at her previous school, her confidence was suffering enormously, but now she loves going to school, her grades have been improving, and she is even starting to read for fun again. After making good progress in summer school, Valerie was promoted to seventh grade, and she started the new school year ready and excited to learn!