Latest news


Posted 5/22/14

According to data released by the U.S. DOE's National Center for Education Statistics, despite the fact that graduation rates are going up across the county, students with disabilities continue to lag behind their more typically developing peers. Read more here.

Posted 4/29/14

An MTV documentary set to air this weekend takes a look at the transition from high school to college of two brothers with autism. See here for more information.

As the public struggles still to make sense of the loss of Avonte Oquendo earlier this year, legislators have proposed a few means of tracking students with developmental disabilities and stopping them from running out of their schools and away from the school staff who are charged with keeping them safe. Read in the Daily News about legislation proposed by Councilmembers Wills and Gibson calling for creation of a voluntary database controlled by the NYPD.

Posted 4/25/14

The conversation about charter schools in NYC matters very much to families of students with disabilities. Read "The big losers in NYC charter fight: students with disabilities," in the Washington Post.

Read more about students with disabilities and the Common Core in the Huffington Post in "Don't Believe the Hype: Students with Disabilities Should Benefit from the Common Core" by Laura Shifter, Todd Grindal and Thomas Hehir.

The Southern Education Foundation has released a new report on juvenile justice, youth with disabilities and education, "Just Learning: The Imperative to Transform Juvenile Justice Systems Into Effective Educational Systems." On the report, see an editorial in the New York Times here and additional coverage here.

Posted 4/23/14

Read Geoff Decker's piece in Chalkbeat on parents waiting for information from the City about how their children's performance on this year's standardized tests will effect promotion.

Posted 4/8/14

Read more on charter schools and students with disabilities in NYC in the New York Times.

Posted 4/7/14

See Salon's piece, "When Charter Schools Try to Crowd Out Marginalized Public School Kids."

Posted 4/1/14

The Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City Schools released a report yesterday on how Avonte Oquendo went missing from his public school in the fall. For coverage of the report and the family's response see Chalkbeat, The New York Times, Schoolbook, DNAInfo, NY1, the New York Daily News, and the New York Post.

Posted 3/28/14

In an editorial by the New York Times, the Board notes that excessive punative policies are used across the country, and minority students with disabilities fare the worst. See the editorial and the reporting on the in the Times and on Chalkbeat. To read the report itself, see here.

For a story on WNBC about delays in busing for students with disabilities see here.

Posted 3/27/14

The federal government is looking to compel businesses to significantly increase the number of people with disabilities that they employ. For more, see Disability Scoop.

Posted 3/25/14

Read a Letter to the Editor of the New York Times on the need to shift the conversation in NYC on school reform from Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children.

Federal legislators are pressing for increases in spending over the next decade necessary to bring special education up to full funding. See Michelle Diament's piece in Disability Scoop here.

Worth reading in the New York Times, "Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney," by Ron Suskind.

Posted 3/10/14

To read about the effect of NYC's special education reform on students who may need additional supports than their schools can offer, see Aimee Sabo's piece on Inside Schools.

Employment numbers for people with disabilities in the US continue to fall. See Research on Disability for details.

Posted 3/7/14

The Leadership Team at the DOE's Division of Teaching and Learning under Phil Weinberg was announced last week. These Deputy Directors could be poised to make significant changes in access to learning for all students, including students with disabilties. For details see Chalkboard here.

Posted 3/3/14

The DeBlasio administration has reviewed the co-location plans inherited from the Bloomberg administration and denied space sharing plans for 3 district programs and 3 Success Academy Schools after finding they either placed elementary and high school students in the same building or that they would have a negative impact on programs serving students with disabilities already located in those buildings. See Chalkbeat, New York Times, NY1, Huffington Post, Daily News, SchoolBook, and Capital New York.

Posted 2/28/14

Mayor DeBlasio has lifted his moritorium on new co-locations announcing procedures to seek greater community input on space plans. See Chalkbeat and Schoolbook.

Posted 2/25/14

NYC Schools' Chancellor Farina gives more detail on her plans for the DOE. Read Sarah Darville's interview with the Chancellor on Chalkbeat.

New Jersey has settled a lawsuit brought by advocates who argued that too many of New Jersey's students with special needs were sent to separate schools outside their home districts rather than receiving appropriate services. See Yasmeen Khan's piece on SchoolBook.

The Independent Budget Office says there were problems with the data they analyzed in their recent report on charter schools and students with disaiblites. Data provided to them by the DOE which they thought reflected all students with disabilities only, in fact, reflected those students receiving special education supports full-time. For more, see here.

Posted 2/21/14

The Chancellor talks about special education at the PEP meeting. See Chalkboard here.

Posted 2/14/14

See here for more information on how the federal government plans to fund tracking devices for young people with autism.

Another student with disabilities was able to leave his school unattended this week. Fortunately, he found his way home, but his mother plans to file suit against the city as a result. See the Daily News and NY1 for more.

Posted 2/12/14

In New Jersey, the State and disability advocates are about to settle a 7-year-old lawsuit that challenged the state's track record on educating students in the LRE. See here for more details.

Posted 2/10/14

Christina Samuels writes in Education Week about how graduation-rate gaps in many states between students with disabilities and their more typical developing peers raise the stakes for next year's first-ever federal evaluation of how well states are serving their special education students.

Posted 2/4/14

The federal government will fund tracking devices for students with autism. See Disability Scoop.

Posted 2/3/14

Mayor DeBlasio has appointed 5 new members to the Panel for Education Policy. That list includes Lori Podvesker an advocate for students with disaiblities and a member of the ARISE Coalition. See Chalkbeat.

"Avonte Oquendo's Death Hits home for Special Needs Families."

Posted 1/23/14

Daniel Dromm is the new Chair of the City Council's Education Committee. See Chalkbeat.

Horribly, the four month search for Avonte Oquendo, a 14 year old with autism who was able to walk out of his school unaccompanied this fall, has ended as his remains are found. See Chalkbeat, Daily News, Schoolbook, New York Times, NY1 and the WSJ.

Posted 1/22/14

Advocates are reacting to the NYS proposal to allow some students with disabilities, not eligible for Alternate Assessment, to be tested at their instructional ability rather than their chronological grade year. See the Huffington Post.

Posted 1/21/14

The State Education Department is creating a panel of students with disabilities to advise on special education policies. See Patrick Wall's piece on Chalkbeat.

Posted 1/15/14

The New York City Independent Budget Office has released a report on attrition in charter schools showing that students with disabilities at charters generally leave at a much higher rate than both general education students in charters and students with IEPs in traditional public schools. Additionally, charter schools enroll a disproportionately lower share of students with disabilities than community schools. Read the report here.

Fewer people with disabilities were working in December 2013 than the same month in 2012. See Research on Disability.

Posted 1/10/14

Carmen Farina, who Mayor Deblasio appointed as the new schools' Chancellor (Gotham Schools, New York Times, NY1, NY Post, and the Daily News) started work today. See Gotham Schools. Uruslina Ramirez will be Farina's Chief of Staff.

Posted 1/2/14

For coverage of concerns of parents with disabilities about how their children will get to school in the new year if they were previously transported by the closing companies, see FoxNY and CBS New York.

Posted 12/20/13

With several large bus companies declaring bankruptcy, City education officials are scrambling to find transportation for about 40,000 public-school students when they return from the break on January 2nd.   See coverage in today’s Daily News

Teachers of some students with disabilities are raising concerns about the new assessments rolling out along with the Common Core Standards.  See Patrick Wall’s piece in Gotham Schools.

Posted 12/19/13

For more on the lawsuit filed on behalf of parents claiming their children were wrongly sent to emergency rooms by their schools which could and should have resorted to other, less traumatizing methods for solving behavioral problems, see Beth Fertig on SchoolBook.

Posted 12/17/13

On behalf of a group of NYC parents, Legal Services of New York in the Bronx has filed a law suit to prevent public schools from sending children to the emergency room against parents' wishes and in the absence of an immediate medical need. The suit asks for training for staff in city schools on the issue and for damages for the families named in the suit. See Lisa Fleisher's piece in the Wall Street Journal.

Posted 12/16/13

Across the country, despite the fact that employment rates are rising, employment rates for people with disabilities have declined. See Research on Disability's coverage of the Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability report.

Posted 12/9/13

Mayor Bloomberg announced that graduation rates in gereral are up in the City and gradution rates for students with disabilities rose 7 percent last year. See Gotham Schools and SchoolBook for more information.

More families of students with disabilities are pursuing impartial hearings seeking funding for schools that can provide their children with appropriate supports and services. See Rachel Monahan's piece in the Daily News.

Posted 12/5/13

A low-income family has won funding for a private special education school for their daughter with a learning disability after a three-year battle with the DOE. Read more about the case here.

The Fund for the Public Advocacy has released another report on NYC's special education reform. The report, authored by Perry and Associates, can be accessed here.

Posted 12/4/13

Families frustrated by transportation woes for students with special education needs have enlisted the advocacy help the former head of the New York Civil Liberties Union.  Read here about their call for improvements, including creating an independent advocate who would serve as a liaison between families and the Office of Pupil Transportation.

Posted 11/27/13

Special education advocates, including the ARISE Coalition, offer advice to the new Mayor. See coverage in SchoolBook.

Read, "'We're Losing Our Little Boy': One Family's Heartbreaking Fight For Their Son's Education," in the Huffington Post.

Posted 11/26/13

See City & State for a piece on how the Common Core Standards effect students who are English Language Learners and students with disablities.

Posted 11/25/13

Mayor Elect, Bill DeBlasio's Transition team will include Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York and a member of the ARISE Coalition. See Gotham Schools, SchoolBook, and Capital New York.

Posted 11/21/13

While investigating school safety in the aftermath of the disappearance of a student last month, News 4 New York's I-team is able to walk into 7 of 10 schools without being stopped. See the story here.

Posted 11/19/13

NYC announced changes to safety protocols following the disappearance of a 14-year-old from his District 75 program in Long Island City last month. See Beth Fertig's piece on the Chancellor's announcement here.

Posted 11/18/13

We recommend reading the commentary in Education Week on, "A Promising Adademic Model for Students with Disabilities."

Posted 11/15/13

Read an op-ed in the New York Times from Lori McIlwain, the Executive Director of the National Austism Association. "The Day My Son Went Missing: Wandering Is a Major Concern for Parents of Children With Autism."

Posted 11/14/13

For news we love, see, "A Boy's Life With Cerebral Palsy, Revealed in Tumblr 'Aaronverse'," in the New York Times' City Room.

Posted 11/12/13

See Gotham Schools and NY1 for information about NYSED's decision that NYC has "systemically violated the law by failing to provide crucial behavioral supports for students with disabilities." To read the State's decision, rendered in response to a complaint filed earlier this year by Advocates for Children of New York, see here.

Posted 11/08/13

The New York Civil Liberties Union has released a report, “A, B, C, D, STPP: How School Discipline Feeds the School-to-Prison Pipeline,” that discusses, among other things, the fact that students with disabilities receive suspensions at about twice the rate as their peers without disabilities.   Read about the report on SchoolBook and access the report here.

Posted 10/30/13

Senator Charles Schumer has proposed that the federal Justice Department to provide tracking devices to parents who wish to monitor their children with autism and other developmental disorders who wander. See Disabilitiy Scoop.

Posted 11/6/13

See Sarah Darville's coverage of the New York City Council's Oversight Hearing on Special Education Reform.

State Board of Regents Chancellor, Meryl Tisch, says that NYC's network structure has failed students with special education needs and English Language Learners. See Patrick Wall's piece on Gotham Schools.

Posted 10/29/13

As the search for the missing NYC student with Autism continues, parents and advocates share thoughts on what went wrong and offer protections that should be in place to protect students. See pieces from Al Baker of the New York Times and Beth Arky from the Child Mind Institute.

Posted 10/18/13

A recently disabled school principal has been relegated to her school’s basement because a wheelchair lift that would allow her access to the main floor of her building hasn't been installed. See the NY Post.

Posted 10/15/13

See both of Melissa Russo's pieces on NBC News' Investigations on special education busing -- "School Bus Headaches" and "DOE Responds to Students Being Trapped on School Buses."

Posted 10/4/13

For news about the Center on Reinventing Public Education's report on charter schools and special education see Gotham Schools here.

Posted 10/2/13

See Fox News' Arnold Diaz' two part reporting on special education busing in NYC at the start of the 2013-14 school year here and here.

Posted 9/25/13

Most of the NYC schools ranked as top NYS schools serve only selective groups of students and students who are English Language Learners and Students with Disabilities are often poorly represented in those schools. See NYI.

Posted 9/18/13

To read and hear Beth Fertig's piece on WNYC on the overuse of EMS by the NYC public schools go here.

See Lindsey Christ's piece, "Mother says overcrowded bus creates problems for autistic students."

Posted 9/16/13

Go here to listen to Yasmeen Khan's WNYC piece on a travel training program for youth with disabilities in NYC.

Read here about a conversation between NYS Commissioner King and a NYC principal about NYC students with disabilities and high schoool choice.

Posted 9/12/13

A professor of physical therapy is buidling mobility devices for toddlers with physical disabilities. See "Giving Mobility When Legs Can't" in the New York Times.

Posted 9/10/13

On the first day of the 2013-14 school year, the New York Daily News features advice from a number of experts in the education field. Two ARISE Coalition members are included there -- writing about the need for a new Chancellor with knowledge about the system and for "a multiyear plan — with budgets and measurable annual goals — for how the city will build the necessary capacity to bring all students up to par." Read more here.

Posted 9/9/13

See Geoff Decker's piece, "Advocates say city is agreeing to pay special ed costs less often," in Gotham Schools.

Parents of students with special education needs at some of NYC's charter schools say they were pressured to remove their children from those schools. See Juan Gonzalez's reporting in the Daily News here and here.

For a wonderful piece on parenting a child with special needs see Lori Podvesker's piece on Resources for Children's Resource This.

Posted 9/3/13

Read Rachel Howard's (Rachel is the Executive Director of Resources for Children) piece in SchoolBook on the test scores and students with disabilities, "New Tests Expose Inequities for Students with Disabilities."

Posted 8/20/13

As predicted standardized test scores for third through eigth grade students fell sharply across NYS and NYC. Scores for Black and Hispanic students, for English Language Learners, and for Students with Disabilities fell the most. See here for information from the NYC DOE. Read coverage of the issue at the Daily News, Gotham Schools, NY1, the New York Times, SchoolBook, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.

Posted 8/8/13

See here for an interview on Gotham Schools with Corinne Rello-Anselmi, Deputy Chancellor for the NYC DOE's Division of Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners.

Posted 7/24/13

NYC's Comptroller's Office has released an audit on the special education database, SESIS, which NYC began using in 2010. See the press release here and the audit itself here.

Posted 7/22/13

See and listen to Reema Khrais' piece on WNYC about ARISE's recent Assistive Technology event.

Posted 6/4/13

Inside Schools has posted a piece questioning the lack of Integrated Co-Teaching classes for Gifted and Talented students. Read it here.

Posted 5/7/13

Read Yasmeen Khan's, "School bus issues continue to dog special ed community."

Posted 4/29/13

Principal Rashid F. Davis has written a piece for SchoolBook on the benefits to co-teaching. Read it here.

Posted 4/11/13

Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) has filed a complaint with the New York State Education Department against the NYC Department of Education (DOE) for its failure to provide students with disabilities necessary behavioral supports as mandated by law. See here for more information from AFC and see SchoolBook and WABC TV for coverage.

Posted 4/10/13 

See quotes from ARISE members on the intersection of students with disabilities and the roll-out of the Common Core standards in Yasmeen Khan's piece on SchoolBook.

NY1's New Yorker of the Week last week is about a coach who helps youth with disabilities build their skills through basketball. See Roma Torre's piece here.

Posted 4/1/13

The NYC DOE has released some liimited data on the first phase of the special education reform. See Philissa Cramer's piece on Gotham Schools.

Posted 3/15/13

The Independent Budget Office has released an analysis of schools the City wants to close this year. Once again, they serve large percentages of students with disabilities and English Language Learners. See Gotham Schools, SchoolBook and NY1.

Posted 2/28/13

For news on how the first day back to school after the bus strike affected students and families see Gotham Schools', "Return of yellow school buses brings relief and new challenges," and Lori Podvesker on SchoolBook.

For news on how the day went for drivers and matrons see SchoolBook, The New York Times, the Daily News, and NY1.

Posted 2/21/13

See Ben Adler's piece in City Limits, "Advocates Pan City's Record on Disabilities."

Read news about the end of the NYC school bus strike in Gotham Schools, NY1, the New York Times, the Daily News, the New York Post, SchoolBook, and the Wall Street Journal. And for a parent's perspective see Marni Goltsman's blog, Capturing Autism.

Hear Yasmeen Khan's piece on WNYC, "NYC School Bus Strike Takes Toll on Disabled Kids."

Bryan Strommer, a student at the Lab School, has launced an anti-bullying campaign in NYC. Read about it here.

Posted 2/19/13

Watch Lindsey Christ's piece, "Some low income students without buses have issues with car service programming" on NY1.

Posted 2/15/13

See the ARISE Coalition's oped on the bus strike, "Disabled students, left out in the cold," in the NY Daily News.

Read about the recent federal guidelines requiring schools to make sports teams accessible for children with disabilities in the Daily News.

Posted 2/13/13

See Yoav Gonen and Yorena Mongelli's, "Hardships mount for NYC families with special needs children due to school-bus employee strike" in the NY Post.

For coverage of the City Council's Committees on Education and Finance's joint hearing on the bus strike see Gotham Schools, NY1, SchoolBook, and the Daily News.

And for coverage of the strike in the New York Times see here and here.

Posted 2/11/13

Advocates say that policies to help parents cope with the bus strike fall short. See Emma Sokoloff-Rubin's piece in Gotham Schools.

Posted 2/7/13

See Sailing Autistic Seas for a parent's perspective of navigating transportation during the strike.

See Eileen Riley-Hall's excellent commentary, "The kids who get left behind," in the Albany Times Union on students with disabilities and standard academic assessments.

Posted 2/4/13

See Gotham Schools, "For one family, bus strike means 8 busses, 4 trains, and few options."

Posted 2/1/13

News coverage on the strike and the effect it has on students with disabilities and their famliies continues. See Art McFarland's piece on Eyewitness News and two pieces on NY1 available here and here.

In other news, Districts are required to give disabled student-athletes access to sports or create leagues for them. See the Associated Press and guidance from the Federal Department of Education for more.

Posted 1/25/13

For more news on the strike, and, in particular, its effect on families of students with disabilities, see coverage on Gotham Schools, SchoolBook and the Village Voice.

Posted 1/17/13

The strike is on and parents and advocates have voiced many concerns. See WPIX, the New York Daily News, the New York Post, and SchoolBook.

Posted 1/16/13

See NY1's "Bus Strike Could Keep Many Children With Special Needs From Class."

Posted 1/15/13

A school bus strike is very likely in NYC. See SchoolBook, NY1, the Daily News, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post.

Posted 1/14/13

After a number of principals complained in the press, the DOE is now rolling back some new policies regarding funding for students with disabilties in NYC public schools. See Gotham Schools' "After backlash, City tweaks special education funding rules."

Posted 1/14/13

Advocates in Chicago have filed a lawsuit charging the city with failing to provide timely special education services for students with disabilities transitioning to preschool. See "Chicago Faulted on Learning Disabilities."

Posted 1/8/13

See Inside School’s, “Applying to middle school with an IEP,” highlighting recommendations and tips from Advocates for Children for families during the admissions season.

An audit of the New York State Education Department by the State Comptroller’s office found that while the state spends around $2 billion a year on preschool for children with disabilities, NYSED has not visited and audited a single contractor involved in the program since 2007.  See David Halbfinger’s piece in the New York Times. 

Posted 12/19/12

The Campaign for Educational Equity has released two reports showing New York State is failing to provide students with a constitutionally mandated adequate education.   Access both, Essential Resources: The Constitutional Requirements for Providing All Students in New York State the Opportunity for a Sound Basic Education and Deficient Resources: An Analysis of the Availability of Basic Educational Resources in High-Needs Schools in Eight New York State School Districts here.

Posted 12/17/12

The Office of the Special Investigator for the New York City DOE has found that a Brooklyn principal cut special-education services from her high school and forced teachers to change records of students with disabilities inappropriately.  See Yoav Gonen’s, “Brooklyn principal short-changed special ed kids to cash in:  DOE Documents.”

Posted 12/15/12

Advocates for Children and the Alliance for Quality Education released recommendations to protect preschool special education programs at a press conference in Albany. In those, they encouraged the state to vigorously audit programs and improve financing procedures. See here for more.

A Brooklyn school has been accused of cutting special education services to cut school costs. See here for more.

Posted 12/14/12

An audit by the NYC Comptroller's Office has found problems with special education billing over recent years. See Yasmeen Kahn's piece on SchoolBook here.

Posted 12//7/12

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged the NYC DOE with false billing of the federal Medicaid system for counseling services for low-income pupils with special needs.  See Beth Fertig on SchoolBook.

Posted 10/24/12

The UFT says that test scores went down in schools that participated in the first phase of the City's special education reform. See the Daily News.

Posted 10/22/12

For press coverage of the New York City Council's hearing on transportation services see the Daily News, NY1, SchoolBook, and Good Morning NY.

Posted 10/11/12

Recruiting efforts are underway in NYC in response to a chronic shortage of speech-language pathologists. See Yasmeen Kahn in School Book.

Posted 10/10/12

A new report from the U.S. Department of Education's office for civil rights says that, from 2009 to 2011, the agency received more complaints about disability issues than ever before in a three-year period. See Nirvi Shah's piece on Education Week.

Posted 10/5/12

While NYC public school classes continue to be over-crowded, the UFT has raised concerns that the number of NYC's special education classes that are overcrowded has doubled in the past year. See Gotham Schools and Inside Schools for more on this.

To learn more about current challengees families are having in obtaining related services for preschool children with special needs see DNAInfo.

Posted 9/25/12

For coverage of Deputy Chancellor Rello-Anselmi’s visit to the Citywide Council on Special Education and her discussion about special education reform (now being called “A shared path to success”) see Yasmeen Kahn’s piece on SchoolBook and Rachel Cromidas on Gotham Schools.

Posted 9/21/12

See Education Week for coverage of recommendations made by the Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination calling for reform of instruction and testing used to measure progress of students with severe cognitive disabilities.

Posted 9/19/12

See the 28th issue of Bank Street College of Education's Occasional Papers, "Inclusive Classrooms: From Access to Engagement."

Posted 9/14/12

See City Limits for an oped on the City's special education reform efforts from our founding organization, Advocates for Children. See "On special education, school department must do its homework."

Posted 9/13/12

Bryan Stromer, the student representative to the Citywide Council on Special Education, writes on SchoolBook, "Students must speak up for real inclusion."

To read about some of the City's special education bussing woes this year see the Daily News', "Brooklyn parents fume as buses don't show," and "City socks busing company that took schoolkids on five-hour rides home."

Posted 9/12/12

See Lindsey Christ's series on NY1 on changes to special education contracts in New York City and how they are affecting students and providers here, here, and here.

updated 9/12/12

For more news on the special education reform see DNAinfo's "Special Ed Changes Create Battle to Find Kindergarten Seats," and Beth Fertig's piece, "Families Struggle with New Special Education Rules," on SchoolBook.

Posted 9/5/12

See Al Baker's article in the New York Times for coverage of the Fund for the Public Advocacy's report on the special educaiton reform and Yoav Gonen's piece in the New York Post for an update from a parent's perspective on her son's need for a classroom placement under the reform.

Posted 9/4/12

See Inside Schools "Here's Help for Special Ed Parents," for information parents of students with disabilities need to know as the school year begins.

Posted 8/28/12

For more on the NYC special education reform see "Special Education Reform Brings City More in Line with National Trend," on SchoolBook.

Posted 8/9/12

New York City's high needs schools -- those with high poverty rates and lareger percentages of students with special education needs or English Language Learners -- have low standardized test scores. See Lindsey Christ on NY1.

A report from the Government Accountability Office says that students with disabilities face massive challenges using federal services that are supposed to help them transition from high school and into college or the workforce.   See here for a piece on the Huffington Post.   See here for the report itself

Posted 8/8/12

The New York Times reports that students with disabilities are more than twice as likely to be suspended as their non-disabled peers, with the highest rates among black males with disabilities. See Motoko Rich's piece here.

Posted 8/7/12

Go here to listen to Shael Polakow-Suransky, the Chief Academic Officer of the NYC DOE on the Brian Lehr show on the special education reform and announcing office hours and a new hotline for parents of students receiving special education supports.  For more on this see Patricia Willins’ piece on SchoolBook and Pam Wheaton on Inside Schools.

Posted 7/30/12

The new Deputy Chancellor for Special Education talks about moving forward with the special education reform and improving data collection and analysis around the reform. See, "At a critical moment, a new special education chief takes over."

Posted 7/20/12

The New York Times has another piece on the whistleblower teacher who complained that his school was failing to meet the needs of his students. See, "On Special Education, Spurned Teacher is Vindicated."

Posted 7/10/12

A bill now in Albany could give families an option to send their children to religious schools for special education placements. See the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

For more on concerns of advocates about the implementation of the special education reform. See Yasmeen Kahn's piece on SchoolBook.

Posted 7/3/12

A proposed bill on charter schools and special education services has some concerned. See Gotham Schools.

Posted 6/21/12

Advocates for Children of New York and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest have filed a law suit against the DOE claiming that the City has failed to provide critical translation and interpretation services for parents of students with disabilities who do not speak English. See Rachel Monahan's coverage.

Posted 6/20/12

At the Citywide Council for Special Eduction meeting the incoming Deputy Chancellor for Special Education answered questions about the special education reform. See SchoolBook for more details.

Posted 6/15/12

For coverage of the New York City Council hearing on Special Education Reform see Lindsey Christ on NY1, Gotham Schools and SchoolBook.

Posted 6/14/12

See Jaye Bea Smalley's, "New Special Education Policies vs. Failed Special Education Policies," on New York City Public School Parents.

Posted 6/11/12

The ARISE Coalition and several of its member organizations have expressed concerns about the implementation of the special education reform - calling on the DOE to address key concerns immediately as they continue to roll out the reform. See Philissa Cramer's piece, "City has released only scarce data from early special ed reform," and Ben Chapman and Rachel Monahan's piece in the Daily News.

Posted 6/8/12

NYC's Panel for Education Policy approved budget formula changes to the special education funding plan. See Grace Tatter's article in Gotham Schools.

Posted 5/24/12

See Micheal Powell's article in the New York Times, "Helping Special Education Students, and Paying With His Career."

Posted 5/22/12

See Jessica Campbell's profile of a full inclusion school, "At The Queens High School of Teaching, A Model of Inclusion."

Posted 5/18/12

The state is preparing to implement a clause in its charter school law that requires the schools to serve their fair share of high-needs students, including proporational rates of students with disabilities. See Rachel Cromidas' piece in Gotham Schools.

Some groups are urging caution as the City's special education reform moves forward. See Phillisa Cramer's piece in Gotham Schools.

Posted 5/16/12

Additional high schools, including several highly coveted ones, will be exempted next year from meeting their special education targets under the reform. See Meredith Kolodner's piece on Inside Schools, "Elite & audition schools get special ed pass."

NYC will be adding special education teachers to their roster next year. See The Wall Street Journal for details.

Posted 5/3/12

At a City Council hearing advocates testified about the overuse of 911 for handling discipline concerns in schools. See Gotham Schools, the Daily News, and SchoolBook.

Yoav Gonen writes in the New York Post that the UFT and some principals are worried about funding for students with disabilities.

Posted 5/2/12

See Bryan Stromer's excellent piece on SchoolBook, "Why should a disability limit high school choice?"

Read Yoav Gonen's piece in the NY Post, "State English Tests Dissed Deaf Students."

Posted 4/23/12

To learn about the state's current proposals on graduation requirements for students with disabilities see Anna Phillip on the New York Times' SchoolBook.

Posted 4/20/12

Changes to state tests hit many students with disabilities twice as hard. See Jessica Campbell's piece in Gotham Schools.

Posted 4/19/12

Laura Rodriguez, the DOE's Deputy Chancellor who leads the Division of Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners, will be retiring at the end of the school year. See Gotham Schools and SchoolBook.

Posted 4/1/7/12

Read Micheal Winerip's "Keeping Students' Mental Health Care Out of the E.R."

Posted 4/9/12

To read about the DOE's Parent Information Sessions on their special education reform see "Acquainting parents with new special ed plans," on SchoolBook.

See Marni Goltsman’s blog entry on Inside Schools, “Why exclude special education students?”

Posted 4/5/12

Tension is building in school communities over the special education reforms. Read Merdith Kolodner's article, "Parents fight to keep out special ed kids." in Inside Schools.

Posted 3/30/12

Small schools that have opened to replace larger closing schools serve fewer students with with special education needs. For a thoughtful analysis of available data see Jackie Bennet's piece in Edwize.

Posted 3/28/12

The city is planning to move a program for students with disabilities now located in East New York and several parents say their children are being left behind either because there is insufficient room at the new location or because travel time will make the new site unfeasible. See the story in the Daily News.

Posted 3/22/12

Read "Will overcrowding undermine special education reform?" in Inside Schools.

Posted 3/14/12

See Inside Schools' for news on the application process to kindergarten for students with disabilities, "Special Needs Children Need Not Apply."

Posted 2/22/12

The City's top middle schools are also being told to serve greater numbers of students with disabilities under the special education reform. See Meredith Kolodner's piece in Inside Schools.

Posted 2/15/12

More recommended reading -- Beth Fertig's piece on SchoolBook, "Do High-Needs Students Affect a School's Grade?"

Posted 2/14/12

See DNAinfo for a piece on parents' concerns as the special education reform continues to roll-out and a related guide to kindergarten admissions for parents of students with disabilities.

Posted 2/13/12

The Independent Budget Office has released data analysis of student populations at the schools NYC plans to close showing a high concentration of students with disabilties, English Langauge Learners, and students who are overage for thier grades. See the report itself here and a Gotham Schools piece.

Posted 2/9/12

Recommended reading -- "From a School Facing Turnaround, a Tale of Academic Perseverance" in Gotham Schools.

Posted 2/7/12

For an interesting piece on service dogs and children with disabilities see the New York Times Magazine's article, "Wonder Dog".

Posted 2/6/12

Parents, advocates (including the ARISE Coalition), and several of the NYC mayoral candidates held a press conference to discuss the implications of school closure policies on at-risk students, including students with disabilities. See Gotham Schools, School Book, and the Daily News.

Posted 2/2/12

Next fall the DOE will require NYC's screened and selective high schools to admit greater numbers of students with IEPs. Read more in Ben Chapman's Daily News piece.

Posted 1/30/12

Read Comptroller John Liu's "Audit Report on the Procurement of Direct Student Services by the Department of Education."

Posted 1/27/12

See Gotham Schools and SchoolBook for information about Governor Cuomo's budget proposals as they relate to preschool special education and early intervention services.

Posted 1/18/12

See Pam Wheaton's piece on Inside Schools, "Walcott okays roll-out of special ed reform."

Posted 12/7/11

See Principal Phil Weinberg's piece on SchoolBook about "The Failed Potential of the Progress Reports" and his concern that the reports create a disincentive for schools to work with students most at-risk or for schools to work collaboratively and share best-practices.

Posted 11/30/11

To read about DOE contracts with private companies and a discussion on SESIS see Adrienne Day's "10 Percent Wrong" in City Limits.

Posted 11/29/11

See Jillian Jonas' piece in Gotham Gazette on how "Barriers Keep Many Disabled New Yorkers Trapped in Poverty."

Posted 11/15/11

Mandate relief proposals from SED to the State Regents were approved - with a big change - the proposal to eliminate the school psychologist at many IEP meetings was taken off the table. See Gotham Schools.

Posted 11/15/11

For an interesting piece on the special education reform and the need for some students to remain in self-contained settings see Beth Fertig's piece, For Some Special Ed Students, Inclusion is Deferred.

Posted 11/10/11

Stuggling with Special Education Charter Schools Join Together. See Gotham Schools.

Posted 11/7/11

NYC's high school progress reports will now award extra credit to schools that move students with disabilities to less-restrictive environments. See Gotham Schools.

Posted 10/25/11

To read about Chancellor Walcott's statements on SESIS, see Gotham Schools.

Posted 10/20/11

The UFT has concerns about NYC's new Special Education Student Information System read here.

Posted 10/15/11

NYC charter schools serve lower percentages of students with disabilities and English Langauge Learners than community schools. See the Daily News.

Posted 8/24/11

Inside Schools posts information about busing questions for students with disabilities.

Posted 8/12/11

Parents need a voice in teacher evaluation. See NYC Public School Parents Blog.

Posted 8/4/11

Students with disabilities were less likely to be included in school-wide activities in the 2010-11 school year than in the prior year. See Ben Chapman's Daily News article.
Posted 7/18/11

For an interesting article on NYC charter schools and students with disabiltiies see the New York Times.

Posted 7/12/11

NYC will increase class sizes for students in Integrated Team Teaching classes. See Daily News.

Posted 5/26/11

Evaluations for students with disabilities necessary to receive special education supports and services are backed up. See Gotham Schools.

John King is the new State Education Commissioner. New York Times and Gotham Schools.

40% of teacher evaluations will be based on test scores. New York Times.

City officials agreed to restart the citywide education council voting process. Gotham Schools.

Posted 5/25/11

Elections for district and citywide parent councils, including the Citywide Council on Special Education, have been extended under criticism that the elections were flawed.   See Gotham Schools.

Posted 5/10/11

Read Marni Goltsman's blog entry, When autism makes 1st grade too hard, on Inside Schools.

Posted 4/21/11

A first grade student at a NYC public school was handcuffed. See the Daily News article here.

Posted 4/21/11

Dennis Walcott begins work as New York City's new Chancellor of Education. See the story on NY1.

Posted 4/21/11

State budget cuts may force several specialized schools for students with disabilities to close. See the Daily News and NY1 for more detail.

Posted 3/4/11

Meredith Kolodner of the New York Daily News reports on the DOE's failure to provide Transition Support Services and to plan for students with disabilities exiting high school. See her article here.

Posted 3/3/11

Data just released by New York State education officials calculates that under 17% of students with disabilities in New York State graduate college and career ready. See the New York Times article for more detail.

Posted 2/8/11

A report released by the New York Civil Liberties Union shows that New York City schools have been overusing suspensions as a disciplinary tool, and students with disabilities have been particularly affected. See here to read the report. See here, here, and here for press coverage.

Posted 1/28/11

New York City’s Independent Budget Office released a report on the schools the Department of Education wants to close next year.   The report shows that those schools have more students with higher needs than others in the system – including students with disabilities.   Read the report here.   See NY 1’s coverage of the report here.  To read a statement from Advocates for Children on the closing schools see here.

Posted 1/27/11

The special education reforms which are being piloted this year in 265 Phase 1 schools will be rolled out to the remainder of all city schools a year later than was originally planned. See the Inside Schools piece here citing a memo from Chancellor Black to principals announcing the plans.

Posted 1/25/11

New York City Board of Education Chancellor Joel Klein has announced his resignation and Mayor Bloomberg has announced his intent to appoint Cathleen Black. See some of the press reports here, here, and here.

The Center for Fiscal Equity released a report, "Diploma Dilemma: Rising Standards, the Regents Diploma, and Schools that Beat the Odds" finding that: NYC high schools with similar students vary dramatically in their ability to help those students graduate, particularly with Regents diplomas; and that students entering high school least likely to graduate have poor eighth grade reading and math skills, limited English proficiency, disabilities, irregular attendance, or are overage. The read the report see here.

Posted 11/10/10

For more press coverage of the start of the school year and students with disabilities see a second article from the Daily News on busing concerns and a piece on accessibility issues in the Daily News as well. See also, the New York Post for an article on access to kindergarten.

Posted 09/27/10

See Meridith Kolodner's article about busing woes for students with disabilities at the start of the 2010-11 school year in New York City.

Posted 09/20/10

Go here to read about the September meeting of the Citywide Council on Special Education on the curent changes in special education in NYC.

Posted 09/20/10

See here for coverage of Save Our Schools, a NYC coalition of parent leaders, parents, activists, and elected officials, and their call for the city to stop relying so heavily on standardized tests.

Posted 09/20/10

To read press coverage on the new New York State standards for proficiency in English and Math, and the results of the annual exams for students in grades three through eight see here and here.

Posted 07/30/10

See Sharon Otterman's New York Times article, "A Struggle to Educate the Severely Disabled" describing the efforts of a family and school to educate a young man with significant disabilities. And see here for Letters to the Editor on the piece. (Posted 06/28/10)

Posted 06/24/10

See Lindsey Christ's piece on NY1, "Special Ed Programs May Face City, State Budget Cuts."

Posted 06/14/10

The number of students receiving special education services in New York City rose considerably this year. See the report on NY1.

Posted 06/01/10

Read about the Celebrate Inclusion event co-sponsored by Parents for Inclusive Education and the Department of Education at Inside Schools and see the report on NY1.

Posted 05/19/10

State records show that NYC's charter schools enroll far fewer of the most severely disabled students than traditional public school. See the Daily News article here for more.

Posted 05/04/10

Jennifer Medina of the New York Times reports on the progression of the special education reforms in New York City. See the article here

Posted 04/29/10

Meredith Kolodner of the New York Daily News reports that students with disabilities are falling victim to the fierce battle to find space for charter schools inside city school buildings.  See the article here

Posted 03/23/10

For an intersting editorial on Civil Rights in Education from the New York Times see here.

Posted 03/16/10

Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio held a town hall meeting for parents of NYC public school students. Raphael Rivas from the Brooklyn Center for the Independence of the Disabled spoke up on behalf of students with disabilities. See the coverage from the Park Slope Courier here.

Posted 03/15/10

New York State and New York City released graduation data for the Class of 2009 (2005 cohort). See the State's data here, and the City's here. See also press coverage from Gotham Schools, the New York Times, and the New York Post.

Posted 03/10/10

The Federal House of Representatives approved a bill to restrict the use of forcible restraint and seclusion, in which children are held down, drugged or isolated in a locked room to control their behavior. Read about it here.

Posted 03/05/10

See the New York Times article on resources for parents of students with learning disabilities from Saturday, Febraury 27.

Posted 03/01/10

Parents of students with disabilities are extremely concerned about the effect the City’s school closings and program re-locations will have on their children.  To learn more see Maura Walz's pieces and all the related comments on Gotham Schools here and here, and read a statement from Advocates for Children here.

Posted 02/24/10

To see analyses of the Department of Education's plans to reform special education see Gotham Schools, the New York Daily News, the Staten Island Advance, and the New York Post.

Posted 02/04/10

A new study done by Aaron Pallas, a professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College and Jennifer Jennings, an assistant professor at New York University, shows that small high schools, particularly those that have replaced large high schools formerly housed at the same sites, don’t always enroll the neediest students including those with special education needs. See here and here for more information about the study.

Posted 09/23/09

The beginning of the school year got off to a rocky start for some students with disabilities and their families who depend on specialized bus services to get to school on time.    See NY1 reporter Lindsey Whitton Christ’s piece and Rachel Monahan and Meridith Kolodner’s article in the Daily News.

Posted 09/22/09

The New York State Board of Regents voted on July 27, 2009 to elect Dr. David Milton Steiner as New York State Education Commissioner and President of the University of the State of New York.  Read the press release from the Regents here.

Posted 07/28/09

On July 3, Chancellor Klein created a new cabinet level position at the Department of Education.   He appointed Laura Rodriquez as Chief Achievement Officer for Special Education and English Language Learners.   That same day, Garth Harries provided the Chancellor with a memorandum listing recommendations regarding New York City’s special education system. The Chancellor has made those recommendations public and is requesting comment by mid-August.  To view Harries’ recommendations and learn more about Ms. Rodriquez, go to DOE’s press release here. To view the ARISE Coalition response to Mr. Harries' recommendations see here.

Posted 07/13/09

On June 8 the Department of Education made known that Garth Harries, the Senior Coordinator for Special Education, will also be leaving at the end of the month to become an Assistant Superintendent of Public Schools in New Haven Connecticut. See the DOE's press release here.

Posted 06/08/09

Linda Wernikoff, the Executive Director for Teaching & Learning Special Education Initiatives at the New York City Department of Education, has announced that she is stepping down at the end of the school year. For more information see the Gotham Schools article, “City’s top special ed official will leave at school year’s end.” In addition, Dr. Marcia Lyles, the Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning, under whose auspices the Office of Special Education Initiatives operates. Dr. Lyles will be leaving to serve as Superintendent of the Delaware Christina School District. See "City’s top educator has been offered Delaware superintendency", and the DOE's press release for more detail.

Posted 05/20/09

A report released by the Public Advocates office on April 30, 2009 analyzing NYC’s high school graduation and discharge trends from 2000-2007 found that the NYC high school discharge system may be artificially increasing the city’s gradation rate by excluding at-risk students, including those with disabilities, who leave school without diplomas.    The report contains several disturbing findings regarding the discharge of students receiving special education services highlighting the fact that the special education discharge rate for students in self-contained and District 75 classes has increased over the years. The report can be downloaded here.

Posted 04/30/09

The New York City Department of Education has announced another full-scale review of the special education system. Stay tuned for more information on this topic as the DOE plans develop and the advocacy community weighs in.

Posted 01/22/09 by Andrew Tirrell

See Philissa Cramer's series of entries on this issue.

See The New York Teacher for a description of Garth Harries’ appearance before the Citywide Council on Special Education.

Read testimony regarding this issue submitted to the City Council by ARISE Coalition members.

Over the past few months the ARISE Coalition and Parents for Inclusive Education (PIE) have sponsored a series of speak outs for parents and caregivers of students with special needs in each of the New York City boroughs. Parents, caregivers, grandparents, concerned educators, and community activists came in large numbers to the forums. Despite a few positive stories about concerned and dedicated teachers and principals they had met along the way, they also told stories about their children being left out of school-wide activities and programs, and a lack of progress in general. They painted pictures of being treated as 2nd class citizens, experiencing a lack of sensitivity at the school and district levels regarding their children, low expectations for their children, and segregation of youth with special needs from their general education peers. The speakers were convinced that their children were being left behind while the general education population made strides. Thanks to all of you who came and spoke as well as all who came to support others from the communities who we support. We'll be in touch soon about steps in response to the speak-outs.
Posted 01/16/09 by Andrew Tirrell
Click here , here and here to read more about these efforts
The New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief has issued a report to the Governor that includes some recommendations we find troublesome as they pertain to special education. Governor Patterson has not acted yet on the report. No new legislation has been introduced. Please check back on the website for further developments with regard to the report and any advocacy efforts around the recommendations.
Posted 10/29/08 by Andrew Tirrell
Click here to read the report
New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. calls on the Schools Chancellor to immediately review its transportation policies to end the "confusion and mismanagement."
Posted 10/29/08 by Andrew Tirrell
Click here to read the press release
Rachel Monahan of the Daily News reports on a DOE attempt to use a copy of an old evaluation to satisfy a parent's request for a new one.
Posted 10/20/08 by Andrew Tirrell
Click here to read the article
Rachel Monahan of the Daily News reports on continuing special education issues at Bed-Stuy's Frederick Douglass Academy IV.
Posted 10/14/08 by Andrew Tirrell
Click here to read the article
Meredith Kolodner of the Daily News follows up with a new article regarding special education bus routes.
Posted 9/16/08 by Andrew Tirrell
Click here to read the article
Elizabeth Green of the New York Sun writes about the shortage of placements for New York students with disabilities.
Posted 9/16/08 by Andrew Tirrell
Click here to read the article
New York City Public Advocate investigates special education placement shortage.
Posted 9/9/08 by Andrew Tirrell
Click here to read the article
Meredith Kolodner of the Daily News and Amisha Padnani of the Staten Island Advance write about cuts in special education bus routes.
Posted 8/22/08 by Andrew Tirrell

Click here to read the Daily News article

Click here to read the Staten Island Advance article

The Council on Great City Schools 2008 Report on improving its District 75 programs.
Posted 8/05/08 by Andrew Tirrell

Click here to read the Council's report

Click here to see the ARISE Coalition's letter to Chancellor Klein regarding the report.


ARISE Coalition's response posted 9/30/09
Yoav Gonen of the New York Post writes about the DOE's proposal to cut the number of District Family Advocates.
Posted 8/04/08 by Andrew Tirrell
Click here to read the article
New York City Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum's Report about the Inadequacy of the 311 system for Parents of Children with Special Needs.

Posted 7/08/08 by Andrew Tirrell
Click here to read the report
Results of ELA and Math Testing of Students with Disabilities Released.
Posted 7/08/08 by Andrew Tirrell
Click here to see the results
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli Issues Report Citing DOE Delays.
Posted 7/07/08 by Andrew Tirrell
Click here to read the report
Chancellor Klein Announces New Special Education Service Delivery Report For All Schools.
Posted 06/17/08 by Andrew Tirrell
Full Article...
Delays for Special Education Middle Schoolers.
Posted 6/16/08 by Andrew Tirrell
Full Article...




Katie, Age 6

A place for students, parents, educators, and supporters of New York's students to connect and bring meaningful and positive reform to New York's schools.


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Enter your email address in the box below to become one of our community supporters. We'll send you periodic updates of The ARISE Coalition's efforts to compel special education reform and let you know how to make your voice heard. As long as you've entered your email address correctly there's no need to submit more than once.






The DOE's Office of Special Education has updated their Family Guide to Special Education Services for School-Age Children.  The Guide can be found  online in 10 languages along with a 1-page resource guide families of students with disabilities can use for quick reference.   The 1-page resource guide includes telephone numbers and email addresses to reach central DOE staff for families to use when they have questions and concerns about their children’s special education needs that cannot be resolved at the school level.   We encourage you to reach out to them for help when necessary.




We wanted to make sure you know about some particularly helpful resources available to you and your children with disabilities as we begin the 2014-15 school year.  Several of the ARISE member organizations have materials available for families that should be quite useful to you as you face the new school year. We wanted to highlight a few of them here:

  • Advocates for Children of New York has created a fact sheet, “Start of School (Fall 2014): Questions and Answers for Families of Students with Disabilities in NYC,” specifically addressing issues that often come up for families of students with disabilities at this time of year. It is available in English and Spanish.  
  • The Mental Health Association of New York has some helpful links for families and young adults with emotional, behavioral, and/or mental health disorders in the Bronx, Western Queens, and Manhattan. Services for parents and caregivers can be foundhere and resources for youth are here. For a listing of all Family Support Programs supported by Families on the Move of NYC, see here.   
  • Parent to Parent of New York State is offering a series of free webinars on issues of importance to parents of children with special needs, such as “Organizing Education Records,” and trainings for Statewide Service Coordinators. The list of webinars with links to register can be found here.
  • The United Federation of Teachers has a page on their website dedicated to resources for parents of students with IEPs.  

To find other resources from ARISE member organizations, we urge you to visit our website and link to those listed on the About Us page. Don’t forget to check out our resource pagesas well for a list that goes beyond our membership.

Additionally, you may want to check the Department of Education’s website directly. You can find information about student registration centers and enrollment here for those of you still sorting out where your children will attend school in a few weeks. You can find information about your rights as a parent of a student with a disability and about the DOE’s Shared Path to Success here.  

As always, the more we know about what you and your children are experiencing, the more persuasively we can argue for system-wide changes to improve the day-to-day experiences and long-term outcomes for our students with disabilities. So please feel free to reach out to us to share your stories.




In 2013, only 6% of students with disabilities in New York City met state standards in English, as compared to just over 26% of their peers without disabilities who met those same standards.   The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) – taken by fourth and eighth grade students across the country – also showed a huge gap in reading skills between students with disabilities and their nondisabled peers.   Even if you’re critical of standardized testing, it is hard to dispute that this data illustrates a problem with education of students with disabilities in our schools.   Yet there are plenty of studies showing that students with a range of disabilities, not just learning disabilities, can improve literacy skills if schools draw from a variety of research-based programs to help students develop skills in reading, writing, comprehension and expression.

With a grant from the Donors’ Education Collaborative in the New York Community Trust , the ARISE Coalition plans to focus more of our efforts on improving literacy for students with disabilities.  We’ll beproviding you with periodic updates on this targeted work and on issues supporting literacy development for students with special needs.

As an introduction, we wanted to share some resources we’ve found helpful in beginning our own explorations.  For those of you looking to learn more, we suggest you visit the following sites:

We believe that the public schools in New York City can do better in preparing all our students for a literate life.  We are excited about the job ahead of us – pushing the Department of Education to embrace the hard, but doable work necessary to guarantee that students with special needs can improve their literacy skills.  We will keep you updated as we wade deeper into our own research and into conversations with the many stakeholders who can make a difference. 




We urge everyone to take a look at the new report,“Bridging the Gap Between Policy and Practice: Best Practice Schools’ Experiences of New York City Department of Education Special Education Reform. " We’re happy to see more information on what’s happening in NYC’s schools as they wade deeper into the special education reform. What the schools reported to the researchers as challenges very much matches what we see from the outside – schools struggling, and only sometimes succeeding, to provide all the supports and services needed by a growing special education population in their individual schools, while facing budgetary constraints and a need for training and sufficient support that make the very task they’ve been given difficult to do well. The report can be found  here.




The ARISE Coalition has joined Facebook. Please take a moment to visit our Facebook page and “like” us. We’ll be posting related news and upcoming events relevant to our efforts to promote system-wide changes to special education in order to improve experiences and outcomes for youth with disabilities here in New York City.




A few months into a new administration with a new Chancellor at the New York City Department of Education and a little over halfway through the school year, the ARISE Coalition is eager to hear from families and school staff about a number of things related to special education. We’d like to stop and take stock of how things are going for families and students with disabilities and for those who educate them in our public schools.  

  • Are you happy with your children’s programs this year? 
  • Are your sons and daughters/students getting all the services they need in their schools?
  • Have they been integrated, where appropriate, into inclusive settings and given access to programs and curriculum they didn’t have before?
  • If they need more support at school, has that been provided?
  • If your child/student needs help with reading or writing, is he or she getting the support that’s needed?
  • In this second year of the DOE’s Shared Path to Success (the DOE’s name for its special education reform initiative), do you feel that students with disabilities and their families are more welcome and integrated in their schools than they were before the reform was rolled out? 
  • If you’re an educator, do you feel prepared and supported by the Department in your work educating students with special education needs?
  • And what do you think the priorities for the new administration should be with regard to special education?

With your real-life experiences, ARISE can make our advocacy efforts on behalf of students with disabilities even stronger. To share your thoughts, please email us at

For a copy of this in Spanish see here.

Posted 3/1/14




The members of the ARISE Coalition wanted to share with you a letter we sent to Mayor Elect Bill de Blasio and his transition team with hopes that our suggestions will help move this next administration in the right direction.

November 22, 2013

Dear Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio and Transition Team:

We are writing from the ARISE Coalition, a group of parents, advocates, educators and academics who first came together in 2008 to push for systemic reform in special education in New York City.  Despite changes made under Mayor Bloomberg, special education remains a major challenge for the next mayor to address, with nearly 25% of all students in the City and more than 17% of students in the City’s public schools classified as having special needs.  Multiple reports have been written and testimonies given at City Council Hearings with specific recommendations by advocacy groups, including, of course, the ARISE Coalition and its parent and organizational members.  The Department of Education (DOE) itself has commissioned reports that support many of the same ideas put forth by the advocacy community (Tom Hehir 2005 Report and the Garth Harries 2009 Report).    We write now to provide you with some specific suggestions for changes to New York City’s oversight and provision of special education, and we urge your administration to adopt them in the early months of mayoralty: 

ACCOUNTABILITY STRUCTURE– New York City must take full responsibility for all students, including students with disabilities.  To do so, the Mayor and Chancellor must regularly provide for the public sharing of data and information about special education supports and services provided in City schools, and must work collaboratively and cooperatively with parents and advocates who are intimately knowledgeable about the demands and challenges of the current system and the critical effects of policy and practices on students and their families.  Parents, advocates and educators must be given an on-going and influential voice in the development of policy and practices for the DOE. 

  • Require the Chancellor to report quarterly to the Mayor specifically on special education, including, for example, data on timeliness of service delivery, performance of students with disabilities on outcome indicators, and parents’ efforts to escalate matters beyond their schools to districts, networks, clusters, Committees on Special Education, and the central DOE offices, as well as via impartial hearings when timely and necessary programs, supports or services are not provided to their children.  These quarterly reports should be made available to the public.  For the Mayor to monitor and support directly the performance of special education in New York City would be a big step forward.
  • Designate seats on the Panel for Education Policy (PEP) for a parent of a student with disabilities and a disability advocate.  We would recommend that PEP members, particularly parent members, serve fixed terms.
  • Require the Chancellor to consult regularly with Citywide Councils and advocacy organizations when considering policy decisions.
  • Provide officials at the Central level of the DOE responsible for setting and implementing special education policy, specifically the Deputy Chancellor in charge of the Department of Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners, the power to propose and effectuate system-wide implementation of policy changes and to mandate conduct at the school level.  Similarly, we recommend that officials at the intermediate level of school governance (whether it is the networks, the districts, or some new structure) also have power to require compliance with special education law and policy implementation – similar to the prior system with district and regional administrators of special education.  
  • Revisit the school funding formula to ensure that it does not serve as a disincentive to schools in supporting students with higher needs in general education settings.  The funding structure must make it a priority to provide even those students with the highest needs with all the related services and special education teacher supports required to make progress regardless of their classroom settings.

FAMILIES - The Mayor must ensure that the DOE engages in a true partnership with parents and moves away from its current litigious stance.  Resources now used to litigate aggressively against parents of students with disabilities should be redirected into improving instruction and supports for students with disabilities instead.  To this end, parents of students with special education needs must be provided with far more information and access to quality programs and schools to advocate for their children’s needs.

  • Change DOE policy to allow parents of students with IEPs to have access to their child's information in SESIS and to require that they receive a finalized copy of their child’s IEP within 24 hours of an IEP meeting.   
  • Reconfigure the admissions processes of school choice for middle and high school to guarantee students with disabilities equal access to selective programs, and revamp the school placement process to better match students with disabilities to schools with appropriate supports, services, accommodations and individualized programs. The current system compounds the overpopulation of students with disabilities in underperforming schools while the higher performing schools serve fewer students with disabilities. We recognize that the DOE is moving in the direction of requiring higher performing schools to educate more students with disabilities as it continues to roll-out reform of special education; The next administration must continue and strengthen these efforts if the City is to close the achievement gap between students with disabilities and their more typically developing peers. 
  • Publish and post online data showing the types of special education programs, supports and services currently provided at each school. 
  • Revisit NYC DOE policy immediately in two critical areas – safety of children with the most significant needs and transportation of those same students.   We would recommend the creation of working groups on both issues that include staff from the Mayor’s office, the DOE, parents and advocates.

INSTRUCTION FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES - The Mayor must support investment in innovation and implementation of effective educational programs to improve the progress and outcomes of students with special needs.    

  • Students with disabilities require quality evaluations (including cognitive and academic testing by a psychologist or if needed, a neuropsychologist) in all areas of suspected disability with substantive, in-depth and detailed information and data that can inform program design, accommodation and instruction in the IEP development process.  Families should be provided with copies of all evaluation results and teacher or provider reports in advance of their child’s IEP meeting.   Law requires the DOE conduct a thorough evaluation of each student’s special education needs.  School staff must be provided with the resources and training to ensure that all evaluations, including, functional behavior assessments, assistive technology evaluations and analysis of how to make all instructional materials accessible to the individual students are conducted whenever appropriate.
  • Invest in training, support, time for educators to meet and collaborate, and materials to implement and expand research-based programs in literacy, math, and behavior intervention.
  • Develop partnerships with private special education schools that have successful programs to understand how to improve instruction, and seriously consider better integrating existing District 75 resources and successful practices such as the case conferencing model used in the NEST programs into Community Schools to bring expertise into the City’s 1,800 schools from inside and outside the DOE.
  • As part of the reform, analyze potential need for more specialized community school programs to address specific areas of needs when it is not efficient to do so at a school level: students who need intensive instruction in reading , e.g., Orton-Gillingham programs, at their level; students with autism, behavior issues, or sensory needs who need small, on grade level classes with specialized support, etc.
  • Consider expanding and supporting the current successful specialized community school programs: ASD Nest, ASD Horizon, Manhattan School for Children, The Children’s School and D75 inclusion,
  • Provide Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) in a timely manner to schools by changing the way instructional materials are purchased.  Specifically, purchase fully accessible instructional materials that are aligned to the common core up front rather than continuing the current costly and untimely practice of requiring individual school-based teams to make AIM available for students.  This policy reform would shift the burden of creating AIM to publishers, rather than the DOE.  RFPs put out for instructional materials for the general education population should have significant input from the Division of Students with Disabilities to make certain that those materials can be used for all students, including those with special needs.  In addition, increase professional development done by the DOE for school staff and parents in the use of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) for meeting the needs of diverse learners in any classroom and to provide access to the curriculum.  
  • Maximize the potential of technology for all students, including students with disabilities.  Require the DOE or an independent agency to conduct a needs assessment with respect to technology and digital technology infrastructure in the classroom, including Assistive Technology for students with IEPs, during the first quarter of the 2014 calendar year.  After that, appoint an expert panel, including parents of students with disabilities, to develop a plan for improvement and implementation of a more productive use of technology for all students.   With improved use of technology, curriculum can be made far more engaging and supportive for all students, including students with disabilities, while it helps assure that NYC’s next generation in the work force will be ready to meet the demands of the digital age.
  • Focus on the career needs of students with disabilities transitioning to life after high school.  Embrace and expand promising career skills programs such as Project Search and the STEP program throughout the city.  Create additional projects and seek out partners to employ students with disabilities who may not pursue or qualify for college education.  These programs should be available to students with disabilities in all NYC high schools (community schools, D75, charter schools and approved private schools).   

Thank you for your time and consideration of our above recommendations.   There is much work to be done, and we look forward to partnering with your staff as you move forward. 



Maggie Moroff
Coordinator of the ARISE Coalition on behalf of the Coalition members

You can download a copy of the letter here.


The NYC DOE’s Office of Innovation is interviewing parents regarding their experience with the DOE’s busing system for students receiving special education services in NYC.  The purpose of these interviews is a collaboration between parents, the Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT) and the Division of Students with Disabilities to improve the special education busing experience for children.

Interviews will take place on Wednesday, November 20th between 4:30 & 6:00 PM at 10 Jay Street in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Interviews will last approximately 30 minutes and parent names will be kept confidential so people can feel comfortable speaking candidly. 

No RSVP is needed.  Just show up to share your experiences.



We wanted to share some important information with those of you who have children with IEPs who will be entering middle school or high school next fall in the NYC public school system. With application deadlines approaching, there are several things we wanted to call your attention to.

Students with disabilities in the NYC public schools, unless they require District 75 placements, should participate in the admissions processes for both middle and high school alongside their peers without special education needs. Students with IEPs can apply to any and all public middle and high school programs subject to the same admissions requirements as their more typically developing peers. 

We hope you have been attending open houses and fairs this fall and you have been reading up on the schools that appeal to you and your child. If you haven’t already gotten a copy, make sure you take a careful look at the DOE’s middle school and high school directories. You can get hard copies at your district and enrollment offices. For a calendar of the processes, look here for middle school and here for high school.  Be aware that applications are due in December for both middle and high school students and that interviews and testing (aside from the Specialized High School Admissions Test, which has already passed) will occur over the next few months. As your fill out your application forms, we urge you to read through the DOE’s overviews of the middle school admissions process and the high school process.  For students applying to high school you may also want to look at the DOE’s Frequently Asked Questions and their dedicated factsheet for families of students with disabilities.

If your child receives any testing accommodations pursuant to either an IEP or a 504 plan, he or she is entitled to receive those accommodations for any admissions-related tests or evaluations during the application process. Schools should be checking to see if your child needs accommodations on assessments, but in case they don’t, we urge you to notify the schools ahead of any assessments to be sure accommodations are in place when your child goes for any interviews, auditions, or tests.

In making choices for both middle and high school we urge you and your child to think carefully about a variety of factors that can distinguish one school from another and may make for a better fit for your child. Most of your questions can be answered by carefully reading the school directories and asking questions as you go on school tours. Things to consider include:

​If you and your child are interested in applying to one of NYC’s charter schools, you should know that charters are required to provide special education services.

If your child has an IEP that recommends a specialized District 75 program, you will not need to participate in the middle school or high school admissions process. Instead, you should receive placement offers from the DOE in the spring for a District 75 program. On the other hand, if there is a chance your child will be moving from a District 75 program to a community school, we strongly suggest that that your child apply now for middle school and high school programs in community schools. 

We would also like to share information that was provided to parents at a recent event on the high school admissions process for students with disabilities. The event was cosponsored by the DOE and Parents for Inclusive Education, a parent group that is a member of the ARISE Coalition. You can view PowerPoints here and here and a factsheet here that were presented by the DOE at that event. 

And, of course, many of the members of the ARISE Coalition may be able to help you navigate your way. See our About Us and Resources pages for more help.

To read the above in Spanish see here.

To download a copy in English see here.


The NYC Department of Education has schedulled a series of meetings for parents of children with disabilities born in 2009 who will be starting kindergarten in the fall of 2014. To read about sessions and to find links to information about the application and enrollment processes, including how to apply for transportation services, accomodations, and services related to students' medical needs, see here


On 10/25/13 the New York City Council’s Education Committee held an oversight hearing on the the City's special education reform. Several ARISE members provided testimony at the hearing which can be viewed in its entirety here, The written testimonies submitted by ARISE member organizations can be accessed at the following links: Advocates for Children of New York and a parent who worked with Advocates for Children, Citywide Council on Special Education, NYC Special Education Collaborative, The Mental Health Association of New York, Parents for Inclusive Education, Resources for Children with Special Needs, and the United Federation of Teachers.



Advocates for Children, an ARISE Coalition member, has released a fact sheet to help guide families of students with special education needs through the start of the school year. It covers a number of concerns that typically come up at this time of year, including: what to do if a child does not yet have a school assignment or the school assigned says they cannot serve the child’s needs; what to bring to a new school to enroll a child; how to find an accessible school; and what to do when specialized transportation is required, but not yet arranged. To access the fact sheet in English see here, and in Spanish see here.



The federal Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) has issued guidance to educators and stakeholders discussing bullying of students with disabilities. This guidance provides an overview of school districts’ responsibilities to ensure that students with disabilities who are subject to bullying continue to receive free appropriate public education (FAPE) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).   See here to read the guidance.







For those of you who missed our most recent Assistive Technology event, INCLUSION REQUIRES PARTICIPATION: Student Demonstrations of How Technology can be used to Improve Access to Education, you can now watch the footage of the seven students with disabilities who shared their experiences using technology solutions to address learning, communication, and physical challenges in their classrooms.

The footage can also be viewed here.

Coverage of the conference by WNYC can be found here.

To see even more from a few of our presenters see:

Thank you to the students who presented, the members of the ARISE Coalition and staff of the Cognitech Café who organized and staffed the event held at Pace University School of Education. 

Thank you also to our co-hosts who kept everyone fed during the day:  Advocates for Children of New York, Parent to Parent of New York State, Parents for Inclusive Education, United We Stand, and the United Federation of Teachers.



Student Demonstrations of How Technology can be used to Improve Access to Education

Come join the ARISE Coalition and the Pace University School of Education
to learn directly from students with disabilities about technology solutions that have helped them to address learning, communication, and physical challenges in their classrooms.

Saturday, April 27, 2013
8:30 – 3:00 pm
Pace University, New York City Campus
Student Union on B-level
One Pace Plaza
New York, NY 10038

Train information link

This is a free event, but due to limited seating capacity, it requires registration.
Please RSVP here.


To see what one student in NYC's District 75 has done with the help of assistive technology we urge you to watch this video.


To experience one familly's journey with assistive technology visit Uncommon Sense.




The ARISE Coalition has submitted a Freedom of Information Law request to the Department of Education, asking for extensive information about the first phase of the special education reform which took place over the 2010-11 and 2011-2012 school years. We are seeking information about changes in placements, aids and services for students with disabilities, class size waivers, specialized programs, school and network budgets to support the reform, discipline, hold overs, and requests for help or due process specific to the reform. The FOIL can be viewed here.




The bus strike is over and students should all be returning to school this week.   There are a few things we wanted to make sure you're aware of:




Did your child miss instruction because of the bus strike?

Did your child miss other special education supports and services or afterschool programs?

Have you been reimbursed for your expenses during the strike?

Join us at a PUBLIC SPEAK OUT!
Sponsored by The ARISE Coalition &
The Citywide Council on Special Education

Invited DOE representatives will be in attendance to answer any questions that you may have and provide updates

Thursday, February 21, 2013
6:00 pm

Brooklyn Borough Hall
209 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY  11210




See the ARISE Coalition's oped in the New York Daily News,

"Disabled students, left out in the cold."

February 13, 2013


Four weeks into New York City’s bus strike, thousands of students with disabilities are still not getting to school each day. Last Friday’s attendance rate in District 75 schools — the schools that serve students with the most serious needs — was just 72.7%, 12 points below its prestrike average .

In any given day, about 2,500 young people in these schools aren’t getting the education they need and deserve.

Yet Tuesday, Mayor Bloomberg chose to ratchet up the conflict — announcing the bids for companies that would replace those currently contracted to do the work — rather than moving closer to a real resolution.

Lost in the standoff is the fact that this unacceptable and outrageous situation could continue until the end of the school year. Also lost is how profoundly the city has failed to provide for parents and students from the beginning of the dispute. They’ve been the true victims from day one.

Initially, the city offered only MetroCards and reimbursement for carfare as an alternative to yellow bus service. Public transportation and taxicabs, hardly accessible to people with disabilities in the first place, are an impossibility for large numbers of children and their families.

The city offered no plan for students who needed accessible transportation, no plan for children who needed an adult to accompany them to school and did not have a parent available, no plan for families with more than one child in different schools and no plan for families who could not afford to put out carfare twice a day and wait for reimbursement.

Some students with disabilities attend school so far from their homes that a car service would end up costing hundreds of dollars each week — a burden even for middle-class families.

A week into the strike, under pressure from advocates, the Department of Education finally started to put a plan in place that would allow some families to access car services paid directly by the city. But the rollout has been rocky at best, and many problems remain to be resolved.

The members of the ARISE Coalition — parents, advocates, educators and academics who work together to improve special education in the five boroughs — have heard from countless families struggling to get their children to and from school during the strike.

One mother told us how her son, who uses a wheelchair, has not been able to get to school because of lack of accessible public transportation and her need to bring his three younger siblings along if she finds an alternative.

Another parent, who uses a wheelchair herself, has a son attending a special education program in Westchester County. Laying out carfare in advance would be prohibitive, and this parent needs to either ride back and forth with her son to school or find someone else to accompany him. Initially, the DOE refused to pay the carfare upfront or cover the cost of the parent’s return trips (i.e., when her son is not in the car).

With recent updates to DOE policy and aggressive advocacy on his behalf, this student is finally back in school, but first the family struggled to find a car service to accept the DOE’s vouchers. Just last week, the DOE added him to a bus route that is still running.

For another family, it took until last week to get their daughter from Staten Island to Manhattan to attend school. In the first few days of the strike, the parent made the trip herself, but as it became clear there was no end in sight, the trips began to take their toll. Arranging an accessible ride from Staten Island to Manhattan turned out to be next to impossible, with the family finally lining up one service that then failed to show.

The city’s leaders seem to have forgotten they have a duty to these kids — a duty to provide them with an education that does not end because of a contract dispute.


The ARISE Coalition and our member organizations are continuing to push the Department of Education for a solution that works for all of our youth, but we wanted to write now to make sure that you are aware of some more specific resources available to help get your children to school during the strike.

As always, we urge you to continue checking back on the DOE’s website or contacting 311 for updates and to advocate with your schools and central DOE offices if you need assistance. If you are confused or encounter unexpected obstacles obtaining MetroCards, reimbursement, securing accessible transportation services, or arranging for other forms of assistance, reach out to one of the ARISE Coalition members available here.

(Posted 1/23/13)



As you may already have heard, there is a chance of a system wide bus strike that could impact your children's transportation services in New York City in the very near future.  We want to make sure that all families, including families of students receiving preschool and school-aged special education services, have the information needed in the event of a strike.   We want you to know your options.

The DOE is sending a communication from the Chancellor home to families today detailing the protocols that will go into effect for the duration of the strike and include the use of MetroCards and reimbursement for actual transportation costs.   To see that letter in multiple languages, visit the DOE’s website here.  We recognize that for some of you these protocols may not be enough.  If you can’t wait for reimbursement or your child needs accessible transportation services, we suggest you contact one of our Coalition members

To get updates as the threat of the strike progresses, we urge you to return to the website frequently at or call 311.

(Posted 1/4/13)


We urge everyone to read Mark Alter and Jay Gottlieb's article," Reform for NYC Special Education: The Thirteenth Labor of Hercules," in the November/December 2012 issue of Education Update.The peice asks and demands an answer to the question, "Why the New York City educational system, despite several reforms during the past 25 years, continues to produce limited results for students with disabilities." See page 23 of the journal for the full text.


For information related to Hurricane Sandy about school openings, closings, and relocations, as well as transportation issues, registration procedures for evacuees, and cancelled or rescheduled DOE events please see the DOE website here. (Posted 11/5/12)


The Citywide Council on Special Education, an ARISE Coalition member, has developed a short survey to gather feedback from parents on issues regarding related services in New York City.   Since the beginning of the school term, they have received many complaints from parents whose children have not received related services.   If you would like to participate in their survey it can be found here in English and her in Spanish.   The CCSE is hoping to collect data on whether the lack of services performed is due to a shortage of therapists in a related field, confined to a specific borough or district, or a function of a more systemic problem unrelated to the therapists and specialists who work with children in need of services. (Posted 10/23/12) 


As we approach the new school year we want to remind parents advocating on behalf of their children with disabilities who may require new or different placements to:


The Fund for Public Advocacy released a new report,"Educating All Students Well," that investigates New York City’s upcoming overhaul of Special Education in public schools.


For information about where to go and what to do as the new school year begins and the special education reform in New York City continues to roll out, see the DOE’s webpages on Back to School and a fact sheet from Advocates for Children answering questions for families of students with disabilities in English and Spanish.


The NYC DOE has announced Special Education Family Office Hours and a P311 hotline for parents of students with disabilities.   We urge parents with concerns about their children’s special education supports and services as anticipated for the 2012-13 school-year to visit the office hours (beginning on July 31, 2012), call P311 with concerns, or call the DOE’s new hotline at (718) 935-2007 (available from August 1, 2012).


All NYC public school parents should have received a communication from the Department of Education on the special education reform sent home with students on the last days of school in June. If not, a copy can be downloaded here in English or here for all other languages. Over the summer the members of the ARISE Coalition urge parents to take time to review the changes they may expect as a result of the reformas outlined in that letter and to familiarize themselves with the DOE's website for parents.  To make sure you understand your rights as parents under the reform, we hope you will look again at the ARISE Coalition's fact sheet on the reform available in both English and Spanish.


On June 12th, at the City Council Education Committee’s hearing on the special education reform, when asked about the path for parents to follow when seeking information or help regarding special education services and changes resulting from the reform, the DOE testified that, “We believe the best information for a school’s particular program can be found at the school-level, so we recommend that families with questions first reach out to their local schools.   If families need additional information or wish to address an issue that could not be solved at the school level, we recommend that they email our team directly at or visit their local District Family Advocate.  If a family is new to New York City, we recommend they visit their local Committee on Special Education.”

The ARISE Coalition urges families seeking help from the DOE that cannot be addressed at the school level to reach out to the DOE at the email address above, or by contacting their District Family Advocate and their CSE.


On June 12, 2012, the ARISE Coalition and many of our members delivered testimony to the New York City Council Committee on Education on the Department of Education’s Special Education reform.   In our statements we laid out some significant concerns regarding the implementation of the reform including calls for the DOE to:

Our testimony concluded with the following plea,

“The ARISE Coalition believes there is cause for reform in special education.  We came together to call for reform and have not backed down from that position.   We want this reform to succeed, but we have some grave concerns that without addressing the issues I have just outlined, the necessary and hard-fought goals of the reform are in jeopardy.    There is still time for the DOE to act and make this reform beneficial to all students – with and without disabilities – but that time is passing dangerously fast.”

You can read the full testimony here.

To read testimony presented by some of the Coalition's members at the hearing follow these links -- Advocates for Children of New York, Center for Hearing and Communication, Center for the Independence of the Disabled, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Parents for Inclusive Education,Sinergia, the United Federation of Teachers.



We urge you to download two new handouts created to help parents understand their rights in the NYC special education reform.   The first is from the Coalition and stresses that your rights as a parent have not changed (see here for English and here for Spanish).   The second is from one of our member organizations, Advocates for Children of New York, and focuses specifically on kindergarten placement for students with IEPs (see here for English and here for Spanish).    



The U.S. Department of Education has issued a publication that outlines principles for educators, parents and other stakeholders to consider when developing or refining policies and procedures to support positive behavioral interventions and avoid the use of restraint and seclusion. The resource is applicable to all students, not just those with disabilities and can be found here.



The NYC Department of Education has created a new site for parents of students with disabilities, "Understanding Special Education in New York City." We urge parents to take a look at it and use it as a resource. At the same time, please let us know if there is information you would like to see added to the DOE's site that would help you as a parent of a student with special education needs. We will pass your suggestions along to the DOE.


The DOE has created a two page handout for famlies entitled," RAISING THE BAR FOR ALL STUDENTS - New York City's Special Education Reform." Read it to see how they descirbe the special education reform and changes families should expect to see.


ACTION ALERT: Tell Legislators to Stand Firm and Protect Access to Early Intervention Services in the Final Budget (Posted 3-23-12)

Background: Brain research demonstrates that the stimulation and interaction a child receives during the first five years of life are critical to permanent brain development.  As part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Early Intervention (EI) program provides evaluations and services to infants and toddlers who have developmental delays or disabilities and their families.  Early Intervention is cost-effective and helps infants and toddlers at the time when services can make the biggest difference.

Budget Proposal: Governor Cuomo’s 2012-2013 Executive Budget proposal would restructure Early Intervention, linking EI services with health insurance coverage.  While we support the goal of requiring private health insurance companies to contribute to the cost of EI, we are concerned about parts of the proposal.  Among other provisions, the budget proposal would:

While the Assembly and Senate versions of the budget rejected these proposals, Governor Cuomo is still requesting to include the proposals in the final budget.  Budget negotiations are happening now!

Call or e-mail your state legislators and tell them to stand firm in their opposition to Governor Cuomo’s Early Intervention budget proposals, which would make it harder to access high-quality EI services.  Tell legislators that you were pleased that the Assembly and Senate versions of the budget rejected the proposals to link health insurance coverage and EI services and rejected the proposed restrictions on the evaluators, service coordinators, and service providers available to serve children.  Ask them to ensure that the final budget rejects these harmful provisions.  A sample e-mail is below.

To reach your state legislators, call the Senate switchboard (518-455-2800) and Assembly switchboard (518-455-4100) and give your zip code.  Alternatively, you can find your NY State Senator at and your NY Assembly Member at  E-mail lists are available at and

Key legislators include:
Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried - - 518-455-4941
Senate Health Committee Chair Kemp Hannon - - 518-455-2200
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver - - 518-455-3791
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos - - 518-455-3171

Sample e-mail:
Protect Early Intervention
As a [parent of a child who receives Early Intervention services], I am very concerned about Governor Cuomo’s Early Intervention budget proposals.  First, just as health insurance representatives do not participate in meetings between doctors and patients, health insurance representatives should not be able to participate in IFSP meetings.  Second, I am concerned that the proposal would restrict access to services by requiring evaluators, service coordinators, and service providers to come from different agencies and by requiring the use of in-network evaluators and providers.  Young children should have access to the most appropriate EI providers regardless of the agencies or networks for which they work.  Third, I am concerned that the requirements that providers negotiate their rates with health insurance companies and file appeals of health insurance claim denials will drive experienced providers from the EI field, making it harder for young children to access the services they need.  I was very pleased that the Assembly and Senate budget proposals rejected these harmful provisions.  Please stand firm and ensure that the final budget rejects these proposals and protects access to high-quality EI services.

To read a letter from one of our members, Advocates for Children, regarding this proposal, please go to



Two separate sets of meetings run by the Department of Education for parents of students with disabilitieswill be occurring over the next several weeks and the ARISE Coalition strongly urges parents and advocates to attend these meetings and ask any and all questions you have about the process for application and enrollment to kindergarten and about the special education reform.   The DOE needs to hear your concerns.

Remember, as you make your way through this application process and attend your children’s IEP team meetings, there is a host of resources to support you in learning about and understanding your rights in special education available on our resources page.

As always, feel free to share your concerns with us as well.   The more we know about your everyday experiences as you navigate your way through the special education process, the more we can advocate on behalf of change that will benefit all our students with disabilities in NYC. 

(Posted February 15, 2011)



On January 24, 2012, the Comptroller for the City of New York released an "Audit Report on the Procurement of Direct Student Services by the Department of Education."    The report concludes that the New York City Department of Education (DOE), by its own accounting, has failed to provide related services to more than tens of thousands of students with disabilities in New York City. On January 30th, the ARISE Coalition released a statement calling on the DOE to live up to its obligation to provide all supports and services necessary and appropriate to enable students with disabilities to make educational progress, and specifically requesting that the DOE respond publicly to the Comptroller's report with an action plan to address gaps in service delivery. To read the full statement see here.   


We want to urge all of you to be open to considering new ways to educate our students with special needs, such as more flexible scheduling or increased time in general education classrooms with support as the DOE continues its special education reform efforts. At the same time, we remind you that your rights as parents have not changed:

  1. You have the right to receive a thorough evaluation of your child at the school level and to be provided with a copy of that evaluation five days before your meeting date.   This assures that you have time to read and identify critical points in the evaluations or points about which you seek further explanation.  If you disagree with the DOE evaluations, you have the right to ask the DOE to pay for an independent evaluation of your child.  Alternatively, you may provide the DOE with independent evaluations you have obtained on your own, and have the IEP team consider those evaluations.
  2. All students with disabilities are still entitled to receive all the services on their IEPS.
  3. IEP teams may decide to modify the supports and services an individual student receives, but those modifications must still be based on the strengths and needs of each individual student, not on what the school actually has available.
  4. Your child’s IEP and program should not be changed without an IEP meeting being held that you have been invited to attend. However, there is opportunity for IEP amendments which may be made with parental consent and may be used to sidestep a meeting that is not an annual or triennial review.   For more on that amendment process you can look at the DOE’s Standard Operating Procedures Manual on Special Education which requires the IEP team to clearly describe all proposed changes for you in writing at the time they seek to amend the IEP.  If you receive written notice that your school is recommending a change in IEP services, with regard to related services, and the school requests your consent to do so through amendment and without a meeting, you have the right to insist on an IEP meeting.   If one person in particular seems to be advocating for that reduction make sure you know how other providers working with your child feel.   We strongly recommend that you take the time to talk with all your child’s teachers and providers about proposed changes in services.  If you don’t agree with the amendments recommended discuss them with the full team at an IEP meeting rather than consenting 4in writing and foregoing a meeting.

    *In order to fully participate in your child's IEP meeting, it is important to understand the factors school personnel consider in making service recommendations and helpful to have a vision of all the service delivery methods available.  To see the DOE’s latest guidance on services, you may want to look at their School Based Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy Practice Guide, which strongly promotes use of group, integrated (in class) and consultative (collaboration with school staff without direct student contact) models, in contrast to use of direct individual therapy.

  5. While you and the IEP team work on the IEP you have a right to see the text as it is written and altered.
  6. You have the right to know the group size and location for your child’s related services. 
  7. A move to a less restrictive environment without the supports and services needed to make that move successful is not appropriate.   The DOE’s reform is not intended to be and must not become a means to simply reduce children’s special education supports and services.
  8. You continue to have the right to agree or disagree with the suggestions your school makes that could lead to changes to the IEP regarding supports, services, or placement recommendations for your child.   If you’re not comfortable with changes proposed to your child’s plan, you can, and should, say so.  The new IEP includes a place to reflect parental concerns and you have the right to ask that your concerns are included in the document.
  9. You must be provided with a copy of that IEP once it has been completed.
  10. You have the right to take disputes regarding the IEP to mediation or an impartial hearing.

If you want to learn more about your rights as a parent, spend some time reviewing the resources on our Resource page.

We are eager to see special education enriched here in NYC – bettering day-to-day experiences for youth with disabilities and their families and significantly improving long term outcomes for students with IEPs.   We remain eager to hear from you about your experiences with the reform effort.   With your stories, we can make our advocacy on behalf of students with disabilities even stronger.  


Please be alerted that there is a possibility of a system wide bus strike that could impact your children’s transportation services as early as the afternoon of November 18th.    While a strike will be disruptive to many, there are some additional concerns regarding pre-school and school-age children with IEPs requiring specialized transportation services and we want to make certain you know your options. The DOE is sending information home with students this afternoon laying out some protocols that will be in place throughout the strike.   To learn more about the DOE’s plan or get updates we urge you to go to the DOE’s website call 311. (Posted November 18.2011) 


The NYC Department of Education has posted information about kindergarten enrollment for families of students with disabilities for the 2012-2013 school-year.   The site links to information about the special education reforms and a copy of their orientation guide for families of students with disabilities entering kindergarten next year.  It lists upcoming orientation meetings to be held in each borough from late November to mid-December to help families understand and begin to navigate the application and IEP processes. For a greater understanding of your rights as a parent of a student with a disability you may also want to take a look at Advocates for Children's Guide to the Transition from Preschool Special Education to Kindergarten


We have learned that the New York State Regents are expected to discuss mandate relief at their November 14th meeting in Albany. We do not know for sure what will be on the table during that discussion, but we have written to you before about proposed regulatory changes, in the name of mandate relief that were previously before the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and are still floating around and might be addressed. Members of the ARISE Coalition have some concerns about the proposals.  Examples of comments submitted by a few of our members to NYSED and the Regents can be viewed here, here, and here to give you a fuller understanding of those concerns.

We have heard that the Regents want to hear from parents. If you have not yet spoken out on these issues and want to do so, we urge you to reach out to the Regents before this Friday, November 11. Contact information for each of the Regents can be found here.


Members of the ARISE Coalition met earlier this summer with Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. We wanted to share with you a letter we sent him recently as a follow up to that discussion. It highlights many -- although certainly not all -- of the issues we are working on:

The full letter can be downloaded here.

This is the start of a conversation that will continue over time. As always, if you have system-wide issues regarding special education supports and services in NYC that you feel should be addressed, please let us know.



Inclusive Technology

The ARISE Coalition has been working in collaboration with the New York City Department of Education and the Teachers College Inclusive Classrooms Project to increase and improve the use of technology to foster inclusion and education of diverse learners in our schools.    We had a kick-off event in June and wanted to share some video from the event with you at this time.   You can watch our keynote speaker David Rose from CAST here and some other highlights of the event here and here .   We will keep you updated as we move forward with our efforts to improve inclusive technologies in our NYC school system.


Albany is considering legislation RIGHT NOW that will make it harder for you to go to a hearing to enforce your rights or obtain additional academic support for your child.
Why should you be concerned?  Two bills before the Senate (S5816 and S5758A) would:

  1. Reduce the amount of time you have to enforce your rights against your school district by cutting the statute of limitations to 180 days for parents who unilaterally place their children in nonpublic school and to one year for everyone else.
  2. Eliminate the right of parents who home school their children or who pay private school tuition to get related services for their child unless they tell the school district that they plan to do this by April 1 of the year beforethey want the services.  
  3. Force parents who home school their children or pay for private school tuition to go through mandatory mediation before they could file a due process hearing.
  4. Allow school districts to cut Academic Intervention Services for students with IEPs. 

Call your legislators (518-455-2800 for your State Senator and 518-455-4100 for your Assembly member) and Governor Cuomo (518-474-8390) IMMEDIATELY and let them know you oppose S5816 and S5758A for these reasons.   Make it clear that none of the special education mandate relief provisions above should be included in any legislation or session-ending deal.

(Posted June 6-23-11)


In June, the DOE will be holding parent meetings to explain the new IEP forms. See here for meeting information and a brief FAQ.


ARISE and a number of our members including Advocates for Children of New York, Bronx Independent Living Services, Brooklyn Center for the Independence of the Disabled, the Metropolitan Parents Center of Sinergia, Parents for Inclusive Education, the Staten Island Special Education Center of Parent to Parent NY, Inc., and United We Stand co-sponsored a series of speak outs in the 5 boroughs on New York City during April, 2011.   We invited parents and guardians, and others concerned with the education of students with disabilities are receiving to come and share their stories.    Thank you to all of you who were able to make the speak outs and represent not only your own concerns, but those of so many of your peers.   Your voices are critical to our efforts to improve special education here in NYC, and we heard you loud and clear.

What we heard painted a slightly different picture in each of the boroughs, but overall illustrated a system ripe for reform.  There were a few themes that particularly stood out:

We held these speak outs to be sure that when we push for changes here in NYC to improve special education, and to assure more positive day-to-day experiences and outcomes for students with disabilities, we push for the things most meaningful and immediate to our youth with disabilities and their families.    If you weren’t able to make any of the speak outs and have thoughts you’d still like to share, please know that we always are eager for your input!



On May 26, 2011the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued guidance on the legal obligation to provide students with disabilities an equal opportunity to enjoy the benefits of technology. See here for the press release from OCR, the Dear Colleague letters sent to elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education, and the FAQ on the legal obligation to provide students with disabilities that opportunity.


On April 3, 2011, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and the ARISE Coalition launched “Students with Disabilities Month.” To mark the occasion, Public Advocate de Blasio announced a new survey intended to give voice to the thousands of parents who fight on a daily basis for the needs of their children with disabilities. The ARISE Coalition will host a series of “speak-outs” for students with disabilities and their parents and guardians (below).


Parents and Guardians of Children with Special Needs:
Are you happy with the education your children are receiving?
We want to hear from you.

Join other parents.  SPEAK OUT.  Make your voice heard.

Elected officials and press will be invited to attend.


Join us at any of the following locations:


April 7, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Co-sponsored by the Bronx Independent Living Services

4419 Third Avenue, Suite 2C
Bronx, NY


April 11, 9:00 – 11:00 am

Co-sponsored by Parents for Inclusive Education and Advocates for Children of New York

25-09 Broadway
Astoria, NY and

April 12, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Co-sponsored by Sinergia

2082 Lexington Avenue, 4th Floor
New York, NY


April 27, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

          Co-sponsored by Parent to Parent NY, Inc.

1050 Forest Hill Road
Staten Island, NY  

April 28, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Co-sponsored by United We Stand and the
Brooklyn Center for the Independence of the Disabled

Brooklyn Public Library, Grand Army Plaza
Brooklyn, NY and (

Spanish translation will be available in the Bronx, Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn.
Sign language interpretation will be available in the Bronx.

You can also email your stories to



NEW REPORT FROM THE ARISE COALITION - OUT OF SCHOOL AND UNPREPARED: The Need to Improve Support for Students with Disabilities Transitioning to Adulthood

MARCH 2011

With the release today of a policy paper entitled Out of School and Unprepared:  The Need to Improve Support for Students with Disabilities Transitioning to Adulthood,   the ARISE Coalition kicked off its new, “Next Step” campaign   which aims to improve transition planning for students with disabilities in New York City (NYC).  The group is calling on NYC and New York State to follow the law with respect to transition planning and to give post-secondary transition for students with special education needs the same high priority they are beginning to give college and career readiness for other students.  See here to get a copy of the press release and download a copy of the full report.



Another round of Turning 5 Orientation Meetings has been scheduled for February and March, 2011.

See here to view the list of dates and locations.


The ARISE Coalition Wants Your Input

Happy New Year!

NYC has a new Chancellor of the Department of Education, Cathie Black.   Not surprisingly then, one of the Coalition's goals for this year will be to connect with her and present her with our thoughts and concerns about special education in NYC.    We will continue to push with her, as we did with her predecessor, our Agenda for Change – and, more specifically, our goals of to promote systemic reform to improve special education, enforce greater transparency and accountability of the education system, and  assure more positive outcomes and options for all students.

As always, the ARISE Coalition seeks to provide a voice on behalf of students with disabilities and their families in NYC.   As such, we are writing today to encourage you to get back to us with your own answer to the following question: 

What is the single most important issue related to students with disabilities that you believe we should highlight for the Chancellor this year?

We eagerly await your responses.



If your child with disabilities will be entering kindergarten next fall please read below

The enrollment process for students with disabilities turning 5 is beginning now.  At the urging of parents and advocates, including a group from the ARISE Coalition, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) has made some major changes to the process this year.   We hope these changes will make what has traditionally been a complicated and stressful process for parents run more smoothly.    We also want to let you know about some great resources you can use to help navigate your way through your child’s transition to kindergarten.

As always, we want to know about your experiences.     We want to know how the process works, and how it doesn’t.    You can reach us at or by calling (212) 822-9523.


The CCSE Meeting on November 18th will include a discussion with the Office of Pupil Transportation.

All are invited to attend. Download the flyer announcing time, place, and agenda.


The ARISE Coalition wants to know how the school year is going

Now that we’re a few months into the 2010-2011 school year we wanted to check in with those of you who are parents of NYC public school students who receive special education supports and services.   We want to know how your children’s school year is going.    

There is a lot going on at the Department of Education – one example being the reforms we’ve written about before, and other efforts to build capacity in schools to meet your children’s needs.   We want to know how those efforts play out for real families in the school system.

Please feel free to write us back at and keep us informed.   As we have said before, when we push the NYC DOE to make improvements with regard to special education, we want to be certain we speak for families with students and students with disabilities in our schools.    We promise not to share any specific, personal information without speaking to you first, so you don’t need to worry about confidentiality.  

As always, thank you for all the valuable information you’ve given us before.


S.ave O.ur S.chools

Emergency Educational Action Plan to Address the 2010 Test Score Crisis

The release of the 2010 New York State reading and math test scores was a sobering moment for our city. While many parents, educators and testing experts raised concerns about the validity of the test score increases over the last few years, it was shocking to see their worst fears confirmed. As a result of NYS recalibrating the test scores to align with college-ready standards, citywide reading scores declined by 27 points, math scores went down 28 points, and the racial and income-based achievement gaps have grown. Only 13% of students with disabilities and 14% of English Language Learners scored proficient in English Language Arts (ELA). Tens of thousands of additional students are NOT on the road to college and career success. See here to read more of the statement.


Sign the related petition calling for immediate action at the DOE to address the scores and:


The New York City Department of Education Division of Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners is hosting a series of parent workshops in September and October.

Download the flyer announcing the workshops in Queens on September 20th, Manhattan on September 21st, the Bronx on September 22nd, Staten Island on October 27th, and Brooklyn on October 28th. Registration is required.


Update on the NYC DOE's Reform of Special Education

August, 2010

Last February the New York City Department of Education (DOE) announced plans and identified guiding principles for reform to better educate students with disabilities in community schools.   The DOE has been working since then to ready 265 of NYC’s public schools to use more flexible classroom options to support those students, while also working to improve outcomes for students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). While the ARISE Coalition is eager to see the DOE improve special education in the City’s schools, we are also watching closely to monitor how this reform plays out in our schools for our students and their families, and to make sure that things are actually improved under the reform.

Who is leading this effort?

The Division of Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners at the DOE is spearheading the reform.  

How long will it take for reform to get to all New York City Schools?

The DOE is rolling out the reform over the course of the next two years – with 265 schools participating in the 2010-2011 school year and all the remaining public schools participating in the 2011-2012 school year.

How will I know when changes are coming to my child’s school?

Families of students currently enrolled in the 265 schools should have received at least one communication from the schools’ principals accompanied by a cover letter from Deputy Chancellor Laura Rodriquez notifying them that their schools had been chosen to be part of the new initiative.  

What should I expect to see in my child’s school this fall?

Families with students who have IEPs in one of the 265 schools should expect changes this fall.   In some schools they may be dramatic; in others less so.  

What should not be happening in the name of reform?

The reform should not be used to justify inappropriate cuts in special education services.  You should not see:

What should I do if something goes wrong in the process?

The reform in no way changes the rights you have as a parent under law when your child is getting special education services. 

How do I get help?

To learn more about parents’ rights you may want to carefully study the DOE’s own Parent’s Guide to Special Education Services for School Aged Children or look at our resource page for links to guides and brochures from the advocacy community. You can also work you way up the DOE's own escalation path for more help.

How do I have a voice in making things work better?

We are eager to see special education improved in New York City and better outcomes for youth with disabilities who have been left behind repeatedly as the rest of the system progresses.   We want to hear from you as the year unfolds; especially those of you in the 265 Phase 1 schools.  We want to know how things change in your school, assuming they do change with regard to the delivery of special education supports and services.    We want to know when the reform succeeds in making your school more welcome to students with disabilities and their families and when it does not succeed.     We want to know how your children fare under the reform.  With your stories we can make our advocacy efforts on behalf of students with disabilities even stronger.  To share your experiences please email us at  


To read the information above in Spanish see here.

To read the DOE's FAQ about Changes to Special Education see here.


New York State Releases New Proficiency Standards for all students and results from this year on Math and English Lanague Arts (ELA) exams for students in grades three through eight.

July, 2010

Determining that results of their proficiency testing in ELA and Math for third through eighth graders have been inflated, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) has recalibrated the way it determines results. Consequently results reported this year are especially alarming. While only 53% of general students were proficient in English in 2010, an even more alarming 15% of students with disabilities were considered proficient in English. In math, 61% of general education students were considered proficient as compared to only 25% of students with disabilities. To read NYSED's presentation on the new proficiency standards see here. Go here to see the City's data.


REPORT: Students with Interrupted Formal Education: A Challenge for the New York City Public Schools. May, 2010

Advocates for Children has released a report examining data on Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE) and profiling twelve immigrant students who should have been identified as SIFE by their schools.  While few of the students were identified as SIFE, half were identified as having special education needs.  The report questions whether students are being inappropriately identified as having disabilities.    The report also looks at the overlap of SIFE and students identified as having special education needs, and concludes that, “For those SIFE who have disabilities requiring special education services, the DOE’s current approach seems to be to serve these students primarily through the special education system rather than through a coordinated response with integrated services.”   Recommendations in the report that relate to the overlap of the populations include:

The NYC Department of Education Has Posted a New "Parent's Guide to Special Education Services for School-Age Children"

See here to download a copy.


The ARISE Coalition Releases a Statement on the City's Graduation Rates for the Class of 2009

Last week, the New York State Education Department and the New York City (NYC) Department of Education (DOE) released graduation rates for the class of 2009.  New York City quickly celebrated the improvements on behalf of students in general education.    The data regarding graduation rates for students with disabilities was, however, nothing to be proud of.  Buried at the end of the statistics and the DOE’s press package was the deeply disturbing fact that only 1 in 4 students with disabilities in the class of 2009 graduated within 4 years.  

In a statement released on March 19, 2010 the ARISE Coalition calls for accountability and responsibility of all NYC schools, districts, School Support Organizations, Children First Networks, and the Central DOE administration for improving graduation rates for the overwhelming majority of NYC’s students with disabilities who for far too long have been left behind. See here to read the full statement.



The ARISE Coalition releases a response statement to the DOE's plans for reforming special education in NYC.


On Monday, February 1, 2010, the New York City (NYC) Department of Education (DOE) released an outline of their proposals for improving special education services in NYC.  Their plan set out five guiding principles to foster education, inclusion, and respect for students with disabilities and their families – all things the ARISE Coalition has called for repeatedly.  To the extent that the DOE’s guiding principles indicate the removal of roadblocks to quality supports and services for youth with disabilities, we applaud the DOE’s new stance.  However, the Coalition has some grave concerns that the DOE’s plan is short on both detail and accountability. See here for the full statement.

For a take on the DOE's plans from the UFT, an ARISE Coalition member, see here.


On February 1, 2010 the Chancellor and Chief Achievement Officer Announced New York City Department of Education's Implementation Plan for the Reform of Special Education: A Two-Year Phase-in Process Focusing on the Advancement of Student Learning and Achievement.


See here to view thier plan. See here to view the list of Phase 1 schools.


The ARISE Coalition has released a statement in anticipation of the Chancellor and Chief Achievement Officer’s plan for improving achievement and educational opportunities for New York City’s children with disabilities.   


Outcomes for students with special education needs in NYC are abysmal:  19% graduate in four years; and less than 5% of those youth who receive their services in self-contained, or segregated classrooms graduate at all.   Another re-organization of the Department of Education (DOE) is upon us (see the Gotham Schools piece on 1-21).  Some of it will be very specific to special education.  To make a significant difference in outcomes and experiences for students with disabilities and their families here in NYC some very specific things must change.   The DOE must immediately:

Success of any reform to special education will require strong leadership and a full commitment from the Department: from the Chancellor’s office, the Chief Achievement Office of Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners (CAO), all Central DOE offices, the districts, the expanding Children First Networks, and each and every one of the City’s 1,400 public schools. Working on behalf of our students, with or without disabilities, every staff person, led by a well informed and committed principal, must be part of a unified effort to bring about long-lasting, systemic reform.    See here for the full statement.




Last July Chancellor Klein of the New York City Department of Education announced the creation of a new cabinet level position at the DOE dedicated to improving outcomes for NYC’s students with disabilities and English Language Learners.  That office now manages the Office of Special Education Initiatives, the Department of Education’s District 75, and the Office of English Language Learners (ELLs) – all of which previously operated in fairly separate realms.  Parents and advocates who have difficulty arranging special education supports and services for students with disabilities can now turn to the Chief Acheivement Office for help once they’ve gone up the ladder and sought help at various levels – from their child’s school upward – without success.    Below is a chart with links showing you how to climb that ladder.



The New York City Department of Education (DOE) recently released their proposals for spending 2009-2010 Contracts for Excellence money from New York State. Click here to view the ARISE Coalition’s comments on the plan, submitted to the DOE on October 8th, arguing that the DOE’s proposal for spending the funds failed to include, or even consider, a substantial percentage of New York City's students with the most profound disabilities.



On July 3, 2009 Chancellor Klein created a new cabinet level position at the DOE. He appointed Laura Rodriguez as Chief Achivement Officer for Special Education and English Language Learners. That same day Garth Harries provided the Chacellor with a memorandum listing recommendations regarding New York City's special education system. On August 13th, the ARISE Coalition wrote to Chancellor Klein providing detailed comments on Garth Harries’ recommendations regarding NYC’s special education system submitted in July.  See here to download a copy of the ARISE Coalition's response to Chancellor Klein.





The past seven years of education reform have not significantly improved outcomes, experiences or services for New York City’s160,000 public school students with disabilities, according to Educate! Include! Respect!  a report issued April 23, 2009 by the ARISE Coalition.  The report is a review of the reform initiatives and performance data as well as the experiences of parents under the leadership of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein.  It describes how Mayor Bloomberg’s Children First reforms have left students with disabilities out and calls for the Department of Education (DOE) to focus on specific reform priorities. Click here to see the full press release and download a copy of the report






New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and Advocates for Children of New York, both members of the ARISE Coalition, are working to assist immigrant parents of students receiving special education services.   Parents whose primary language is not English have the right to receive translation and interpretation services from the DOE.  Form request letters and fact sheets intended to aid parents who are not fluent in English to participate in planning their children’s special education program can be downloaded here and here.    All documents are available in Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, French, Haitian-Creole, Korean, Polish, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu.