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11.07.2013 | NY1 | A state investigation has revealed that the city's Department of Education isn't doing enough to help special needs students with behavioral problems. The state Department of Education says that the city "systemically violated the law by failing to provide crucial behavioral supports for students with disabilities." Advocates say that city schools are not following required procedures to identify causes of the challenging behavior or provide appropriate supports to prevent the behavior from occurring, and the state agrees. "The DOE really needs to work harder to get these schools using these type of methods so that they can prevent problem behavior before it occurs, and when it does occur, so they can manage it appropriately," said Kim Sweet of Advocates for Children of New York. Read article

11.07.2013 | Capital New York | The Department of Education systemically violated the law by not providing necessary supports for students with disabilities, according to a ruling by the state education department on Thursday. The New York State Education Department (N.Y.S.E.D.) ruled that the D.O.E. has failed to ensure that students with disabilities are properly evaluated and provided with support for behavioral issues. The N.Y.S.E.D. ruling is an affirmation of a complaint filed by Advocates for Children (A.F.C.), which supports high-risk students, earlier this year. "We hope this decision will motivate the D.O.E. to finally do the right thing for New York City students," Kim Sweet, the Executive Director of A.F.C., said in a statement. Read article

11.06.2013 | Capital New York | Kim Sweet, the executive director of Advocates for Children, which focuses on high-risk students, told Capital she's eager to work with the de Blasio administration. "Mayor de Blasio will have the opportunity to show that mayoral control can go hand in hand with inclusiveness and respect for parents, students and communities," she said. Read article

11.04.2013 | NY1 | According to NY1's analysis of Department of Education data, there were at least 40 schools where the majority of suspensions last year went to students with diagnosed disabilities. "I think the disproportionality is a huge cause to concern, and my hope would be that it's a red flag to the Department of Education to get into these schools and really figure out what's going on," said Kim Sweet of Advocates for Children of New York. Read article

10.31.2013 | Capital New York | A group of public school advocates are calling on the Department of Education to include parents and students in the implementation of a new teacher evaluation system. In a report released on Thursday, Advocates for Children (AFC) requested that the department establish a new "stakeholder advisory group," consisting of students and parents, to advise the DOE on the evaluation rollout. The AFC report argues that students and parents were excluded from negotiations between the DOE, United Federation of Teachers, and state Board of Regents about the teacher evaluation system. Read article

10.28.2013 | Gotham Schools | The city’s special education reforms have moved thousands of students out of specialized classes citywide, according to data shared by Department of Education officials on Friday. But city officials and special education advocates alike said it remained too soon to tell whether the systemwide changes have been good for students.

Many advocates for students with disabilities testified that the data doesn’t give a full enough picture of the impact of the reforms. Special education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children Maggie Moroff, who has been requesting more data about the reforms for years, said crucial questions were left unanswered. “It doesn’t say what the students’ experience is like. We don’t know if they moved them appropriately,” she said. Read article

10.15.2013 | New York Times | Eleven days after a teenager with autism walked away from his school in Queens in the middle of the day, a senior police commander, Chief of Department Philip Banks III, said on Tuesday that an intensifying search had failed to turn up even a trace of the student. As the effort to locate the boy, Avonte Oquendo, continued, a lawyer for the family and advocates for children with disabilities said they were increasingly troubled by a prior mystery: How did the 14-year-old get out of the school to begin with? “No student should ever get away,” said Maggie Moroff, the special-education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children of New York, a nonprofit legal group. Read article

10.07.2013 | Gotham Schools | When students walked into the citywide high school fair last month, one of the first things they saw was a pile of colorful, phone-book sized directories listing more than 500 schools they can consider. But those guides were available only in English, as they have been for the last several years. The Department of Education posts translated guides to elementary, middle, and high schools online in nine of the most commonly spoken languages. But parents, advocates, and guidance counselors say not having printed versions creates a barrier for parents whose access to information is already limited.

“This sends a message that people who don’t speak English aren’t as important, because the guide isn’t available to them in the same way,” said Elsa Cruz Pearson, a staff attorney at the Immigrant Students’ Rights Project. The department stopped printing copies of translated directories after the 2007-2008 school year. For a time, it distributed disks with translated guides but now simply makes them available for download online. That can be a problem for immigrant families, said Pearson, who has gotten calls from families seeking translated directories. “Many immigrant parents are not computer literate,” she said. “They don’t have computer in the home where they can jump on and start downloading guides in their languages.” Read article

10.02.2013 | Gotham Schools | Advocates for Children of New York, which has been critical of some Bloomberg-era education policies, split the difference, with executive director Kim Sweet submitting testimony supporting a one-year moratorium on school closings and additional parental notification, but opposing the resolution that requests veto power for the Community Education Councils. “When it comes to some of the most disadvantaged students in the school system, such as students who are overage and under-credited or students who are involved in the justice system, we desperately need more schools and programs that can meet their needs,” Sweet said. Read article

10.01.2013 | SchoolBook | But Paulina Davis, a staff attorney at the group Advocates for Children in New York City, remained skeptical of the study's conclusions. She said her group still gets calls from parents of children with disabilities who were admitted to charters through the lottery system but didn't enroll because they were told the school was not a good fit. She also said she has not seen "a lot of variation and flexibility in programming in the charter sector in general for students with disabilities." Read article