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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

05.01.2013 | New York Family | As the granddaughter, daughter, and sister of teachers, Kim Sweet broke the mold by studying law. But it seems that the education bug never left her blood. As the executive director of Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), Sweet has made a career out of helping city students get a quality education that meets their needs. Read article

05.01.2013 | Leanin.org | AFC's Ana Espada shares her personal triumph in an article featured oo LeanIn.org.  Ana states, "As a child, I knew right away that I was different. I was born in the mid-1950s, the youngest of four overachieving sisters. I was rebellious, messy and temperamental, fighting with my parents when they tried to dress all of us in matching crinoline dresses. I was clearly not a girly-girl and I didn’t even know if I was a girl in my heart. I just knew that I wasn’t like my sisters, who were all feminine, cutesy and smart." Read the entire article here.

04.08.2013 | WABC-TV Eyewitness News | Art McFarland reports on the complaint filed by AFC against the NYC Department of Education for its failure to provide students with disabilities necessary behavioral supports as mandated by law. "The schools were not providing the appropriate behavioral supports," Rebecca Shore said. Shore is an attorney for Advocates for Children, which has filed the complaint. The group points out that as student suspensions for last school year totaled 69,643. Disabled students suspended made up more than 32 per cent of that number, even though disabled students are only 12 per cent of the citywide student population. Read article

04.08.2013 | SchoolBook | Kim Sweet, Executive Director of AFC said, “There is still a massive access gap between higher- and lower-income districts,” she said. “If the city is really serious about broadening access to G&T programs for low-income children, they clearly have to do more than changing the test every few years. They need to look closely at outreach, process, and preparation, plus go into the communities with low participation and find out why more students don’t apply.” Read article

04.05.2013 | SchoolBook | Rebecca Shore, the director of litigation at Advocates for Children, the group that filed the complaint, said New York State law required that schools address students’ behavioral issues through a behavioral assessment and then an individualized plan. “Many Department of Education schools are not following the regulations, either because they don’t know what they are or because they’re not being given the appropriate support and oversight,” she said.  Read article

03.22.2013 | Gotham Schools | Maggie Moroff, the special education policy coordinator of Advocates for Children and the coordinator of the ARISE Coalition, said education officials needed to better translate the dual philosophical and pedagogical shifts for families. She and other members of the coalition met last week with education officials to discuss the Common Core, and did not leave satisfied that the D.O.E. had planned properly for special needs students. Read article

03.14.2013 | Gotham Schools | "From what I am seeing here it looks like there are positive trends — but I’m not seeing everything here that I want to," said Maggie Moroff, who heads the ARISE Coalition of advocates. In January, Moroff submitted a Freedom of Information Law request to the Department of Education, asking for 25 kinds of information about the effects of the special education reforms.

Moroff said ARISE and Advocates for Children, which hosts the coalition, hear regularly from parents who are dissatisfied with their children’s placement under the reforms. But she said those cases might very well be extreme. "It’s hard for us to analyze based on the families we talk to,” Moroff said. “We really want to see more complete data."  Read article

03.04.2013 | Insideschools.org | In one recent week, Advocates for Children got four calls from families whose children had been suspended from the same charter elementary school (Hyde Leadership Charter). A parent from another charter school called to say that her son had been suspended three times for "yelling." Is suspension the usual appropriate response to yelling, the parent wondered, and if not, what recourse did she and her son have? Advocates for Children has produced a guide to Charter School Discipline to help answer questions like these.  Read article

02.21.2013 | Gotham Schools | Still, the end of the strike brings a new set of challenges. Thousands of students, many with special needs, have been out of school for the duration of the strike. Now that the buses are running, those students are able to get to school, where they face transitions parents and special education advocates said many students are likely to find difficult.

“It’s like learning a new routine all over again … a month is a long time for a child. There will be a certain degree of starting over for some of the children,” said Maggie Moroff, special education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children.

Students who missed a month of classes and special services such as speech and occupational therapy will be “playing a serious game of catch-up,” Moroff said. Read article

02.18.2013 | City Limits | Many of the schools featuring special citywide programs, including many high schools, are simply unavailable to students with disabilities. "Physical accessibility to school buildings is way limited and therefore access to model programs that other students have is also limited," says Maggie Moroff, special education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children (AFC). "Most of the high schools I've visited are inaccessible. It's not based on whether it's a good program or bad program or sought-after program. If you can't get into the building, you can't get into the program."

Disabled students seem to also suffer poor academic outcomes. Statistics are only available for all special education students, which include students with learning and cognitive disabilities as well as physical ones, but the numbers are troubling. For the class of 2011, only 27.2 percent of students with disabilities graduated from high school by June of their fourth year. (This was an improvement over the 17.1 percent June graduation rate for students with disabilities in 2005, but still far below the 2011 graduation rate for non-disabled students of 66.9 percent.) One reason for this disparity may be material that is inaccessible to children with disabilities such as visual impairments. "We fight over and over again the battle for individual families to make the material accessible, to digitalize it, for example," says Moroff. "But why not generalize it so they don't have to reinvent the wheel every time?" Read article