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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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02.13.2015 | Colorlines | New York City charter schools’ harsh school discipline policies violate city discipline standards and state law, researchers at the New York City group Advocates for Children (PDF) found. The new report, released Thursday, details a troubling narrative: families, who at first experience joyful relief over their children’s admission to a charter school soon gives way to frustration and confusion when their students are suspended, and then often summarily expelled by those same charter schools which promise extra supports for students. Read article

02.13.2015 | Gothamist | A children’s advocacy group has found that large numbers of NYC charter schools are violating state and federal law in their disciplinary practices, handing out excessive suspensions and expulsions—often without due process—to children as young as five. Through Freedom of Information Law requests, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) obtained the discipline policies of 155 out of the 183 total charter schools in NYC during the 2012-2013 school year and part of the 2013-2014 school year. Their report, "Civil Rights Suspended," examines how those policies fail to protect students and details some of the most egregious allegations of excessive discipline. Read article

02.12.2015 | New York Times | Most of New York City’s charter schools have disciplinary codes that do not meet either state or federal requirements, according to a report by a children’s advocacy organization that is to be released on Thursday. The finding adds a new dimension to a long-running debate about the role that strict forms of discipline plays in the city’s public schools. “These are public schools, and we should be expecting them to meet the requirements of the law,” said Paulina Davis, a staff attorney with the group, Advocates for Children, and the principal author of the report. Read article

02.12.2015 | WNYC SchoolBook | Advocates for Children of New York looked at the policies for 164 of the city's nearly 200 charter schools. Staff attorney Paulina Davis said 107, or two thirds, of those reviewed allowed children to be removed for any infraction, even if it's as minor as littering or not wearing a uniform. "It violates the student's right to due process," she explained. "And that includes the right to a penalty that is proportionate for the student's conduct." Read article

01.28.2015 | Epoch Times | Some 9,000 children six years old and younger are homeless in New York City, states a report by the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs, released Wednesday. The report points out homeless children would benefit the most from city-funded child care programs, but often don’t because of lack of communication between the agency responsible for the child care program, Administration for Children’s Services, and the agency responsible for the shelters, Department of Homeless Services. The city doesn’t track how many homeless children enroll in its child care system, according to Jennifer Pringle, NYS-TEACHS project director, and the shelters focus more on looking for permanent housing than child care for their clients. Read article

12.18.2014 | Chalkbeat New York | The state is also considering a policy change that would let students substitute a different exam for one of the five they must currently pass to graduate, and another that would let English learners appeal low scores on their English exams. Abja Midha, a project director at Advocates for Children, said the proposals must be coupled with more classroom support. “We definitely welcome the recent increase in attention to English-language learners,” she said. “But we definitely will be keeping an eye on what instructional supports are provided and how they play out.” Read article

12.15.2014 | Chalkbeat New York | Advocates of Children of New York says the charter school sector’s compliance problems go well beyond a handful of schools. The nonprofit says it reviewed more than 150 charter school discipline policies and is “alarmed by the number of policies that fail to comport” with the state’s charter school act, according to a letter sent to Tisch last week. Read article

11.20.2014 | SchoolBook | Bernard Dufresne, a staff attorney at Advocates for Children, said he thought the school missed an opportunity to encourage a conversation between the parties in a much more constructive setting. "Principals in many ways see a suspension as the first option," he said, adding that suspensions were "not an investment in the student's academic outcomes" and that students often returned more disengaged from school. While the current discipline code allows for other interventions, including mediation and restorative justice, there are not strong incentives to encourage many principals to change their ways. Read article

11.13.2014 | Chalkbeat New York | While there are dozens of programs able to serve thousands of high-school students who fall behind, fewer than 450 slots exist in programs for overage middle school students, according to a recent report by the nonprofit Advocates for Children... Ashley Grant, a staff attorney at Advocates for Children and the lead author of the report on overage middle-school students, said her 16-year-old client, an eighth-grader at New Directions, has already benefitted from being around classmates her age for “the first time in years.” Read article

11.06.2014 | Chalkbeat New York | The matter is especially delicate at Boys and Girls, which was the subject of a class action lawsuit a decade ago alleging that the school warehoused troublesome students in the auditorium as a way to push them out. Brown’s claim—that he was pressured to transfer to another school—differs from the 2005 lawsuit, which alleged that the school’s actions drove students to drop out of school completely, said Rebecca Shore, director of litigation at Advocates for Children, the nonprofit that helped file the lawsuit. (As part of a 2008 settlement, the city agreed to put Boys and Girls under the oversight of a monitor for several years and make sure the school got approval before transferring students.) Still, Brown’s situation highlights a common problem, Shore said. Students have the right to remain in school until the end of the year they turn 21, and administrators must follow strict protocols to make students switch schools against their will. But administrators sometimes work around those rules by convincing students that they will not graduate from their current school, and so should transfer to an alternative school, Shore said. “It comes off in theory as the student wanting this and consenting,” she said. “But really, it’s more of the school pushing the student out.” Read article