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Micaela’s Story

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

03.12.2014 | City Limits | The second goal, the promised transfer of all academic credits earned by youth in placement, has not been delivered, either. Attorneys at Advocates for Children say when teens are released from OCFS placement, New York City public high schools frequently reject their credits—and don’t want to re-enroll them, in violation of the law...Those lost credits represent hundreds of hours of hard work in difficult circumstances, by students often deeply discouraged with school. “It’s a huge deterrent,” says Dawn Yuster, director of Advocates for Children’s School Justice Project. “It’s tragic. They do all this work, spend all this time, but the credits may not count.” She adds: “A lot of times, community schools don’t want our kids. But they’ve served their time, they have a right to an education. At the end of the day, no school is supposed to turn away a kid.” Read article

03.06.2014 | Insideschools | Maggie Moroff, a lawyer for Advocates for Children who represents Caleb, says many schools no longer offer self-contained classes, either because they lack the resources or because they are confused about what the reform actually requires. “I think the case illustrates how complicated things can get under the special education reform — where schools are being asked to meet the needs of students who require more than some of the schools are prepared to provide." Read article

02.10.2014 | Jumpstart | I later met with Advocates for Children of New York, an education advocacy organization that had focused traditionally on K-12 education. We were concerned that there was no attorney in New York City focused on early childhood education, and we decided it was time to fill that gap. For the past five-and-a-half years, the Early Childhood Education Project at Advocates for Children has provided legal representation, outreach and training, and policy advocacy to strengthen access to high-quality early childhood education programs for low-income families.

It is heartbreaking to hear from families who cannot find preschool seats for their children. A grandparent explained to us that her older grandchild is involved in the juvenile justice system and she wanted desperately for her three-year-old grandchild to go to preschool to get him on a different life path, but all the programs she contacted had waitlists.

That’s why the Project advocates for increased investments in high-quality early childhood education programs, and we won’t stop until every child has the right to a preschool seat. Read article

02.03.2014 | DNA Info | "The issue with universal pre-kindergarten is that everyone thought it was a good idea for a long time but there was never the money," said Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children, which works to protect children from discrimination. "It's been frustrating over the years to know the need for UPK and to not to be able to come up with the funding." Read article

01.13.2014 | Capital New York | More than 90 influential arts and culture groups are pushing Mayor Bill de Blasio to stick to his promise of providing arts education to every public school child in the city. Some of the city's most powerful arts and education advocacy figures signed the statement, including Kim Sweet, the executive director of Advocates for Children who served as a member of de Blasio's transition team. Read article

01.09.2014 | Capital New York | Special education students attending New York City charter schools leave at a much higher rate than their peers at district schools, according to a new report released by the Independent Budget Office (I.B.O.) on Thursday. Reacting to the report, Paulina Davis, staff attorney for Advocates for Children, an advocacy group for at-risk children, said, "The charter sector needs to provide quality special education programs to students with disabilities to ensure these schools are accessible to a diverse group of learners." Read article

12.04.2013 | Insideschools | Thanks to a recent ruling by the New York State Department of Education (NYSED), schools like J.P.'s can no longer claim ignorance. J.P.’s story is one of 20 cases cited by Advocates for Children (AFC) in a complaint filed with the NYSED in April about the Department of Education’s failure to adequately use these behavior tools. NYSED ruled that the DOE has made serious errors and ordered officials to take specific steps to overhaul the program.

“I get it,” said AFC’s Director of Litigation Rebecca Shore. “A teacher is in a classroom with 25 kids and there’s one kid who is demanding all her attention. There’s an instinct to get that kid out of your class. But I’ve also seen that if you address that child's behavior positively, you can reduce a lot of that interference.”

The complaint detailed case after case in which families were denied FBAs and BIPs or the plans were vague and inadequate. “The FBA is an assessment that by definition requires collection of data and observation over a number of days in multiple settings,” said Shore. Pinpointing the reasons or motivations behind the behavior can help staff come up with a plan. If a disruptive behavior always happens during writing activities, for example, maybe the student needs to sit close to the front of the room or receive extra support to help him stay focused and lessen frustration. “I hope that because of this [ruling], more schools will be addressing issues positively,” said Shore, “and less students will be punished and excluded from the classroom because of their behavior.” Read article

11.22.2013 | Gotham Schools | A student stuck without a diploma after 11 unsuccessful attempts to pass a test is the 'poster child' for a need to create new ways to graduate, a top state education official said this week...Abja Midha, coordinator of an advocacy group called Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma, said that such programs must be available to a wide range of students – including those with special needs – and should include assessments other than standardized tests. Read article

11.20.2013 | Gotham Schools | A leading special education advocate and a PTA president are among the 60 people that Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has named to his “transition committee.”...The committee includes Zakiyah Ansari, the Alliance for Quality Education’s advocacy director and a leading critic of the Bloomberg’s education policies; Cynthia Nixon, an actress who herself has worked with AQE; and Kim Sweet, a special education advocate whose organization has repeatedly sued the city under Bloomberg. All are public school parents. Read article

11.20.2013 | SchoolBook | Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio announced the appointment of his 60-member transition committee, and it includes 10 individuals with experience in education and children's issues...members of the transition team with experience in education and children's issues include: Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York, which has fought to help children with special needs in the city's public schools. Read article