SEE US ON FACEBOOK

ARISE Coalition Facebook Link

 

 

 

 

Join the Cause!

Click the button 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.

 

Sign Up for Email Updates

 

 
    

 

ARISE Coalition logo

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

************************************************************************************

Thanks so much to all that were able to attend our Speak Out on Assistive Technology (AT) in February. We've been having some technical difficulties here and couldn't send this until now, but we wanted to let you all know that it was an amazing event!

During the expert panel, Anna Spoden shared her successes in advocating for assistive technology devices for two of her students and the tremendous impact these devices have made. Ptahra Jeppe provided valuable first-hand feedback as a former New York City public school student and user of assistive technology who continues to use AT in her everyday life. Mark Surabian contributed to these experiences by sharing his expertise in the field of assistive technology and its accessibility for students with disabilities in New York City schools. During our speak out portion of the evening, we also heard stories from parents of students using or in need of assistive technology devices, as well as from educators and DOE representatives who were able to provide helpful feedback.

For more on what was shared during the program, please see the PowerPoint used that night.

Also, it is never too late to share your story! You can find a copy of our Share Your Story form in English or Spanish. We'd still love to hear from you even if you couldn't be with us in February.

Thanks and see you at our next event!

 

************************************************************************************

In February, WNYC's SchoolBook published an opinion piece authored by Jackie Okin-Barney, the Coordinator of Parents for Inclusive Education (PIE) and Maggie Moroff, the Coordinator of ARISE. In a response to the DOE’s official answer to findings from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office that 83% of New York City’s elementary schools are not fully accessible to people with disabilities, we wrote about the need for more accessible programs for students with disabilities at every age in New York City. 

The members of ARISE, including PIE, know how hard it can be for families who need barrier free sites to find the right match for their children, and we want to hear from those of you who have stories to share about your own searches. To that end, we have set up a brief survey available in both English and Spanish. We hope that you’ll help us out by taking time to complete or share the survey.  

Thank you for your continuing attention and support to a range of issues around students with disabilities.

 

************************************************************************************

Thank you to all who joined us a few weeks ago for our panel discussion and speak-out on providing behavior supports to students with disabilities in New York City’s public schools. The ARISE Coalition uses what we learn from our panelists and the parents, educators, and other stakeholders who attend these events to inform the advocacy work we do — pushing the Department of Education to improve the day-to-day experiences of and long-term outcomes for youth with disabilities in NYC. What we hear from all of you impacts every conversation we have with the DOE and every campaign we undertake to push for improvements on behalf of students with special needs. We couldn’t do our work without you.

Along with our co-host, the Mental Health Association of New York City, on November 19th, we welcomed a great panel that included Dana Ashley from the Positive Learning Collaborative, Amy Breglio from the School Justice Project at Advocates for Children of New York, and Lisa Hunter Romanelli from the REACH Institute. In front of a packed room, our panelists:

  • Discussed their work related to the topic;
  • Talked about the need for systems to avoid and de-escalate problem behaviors at school;
  • Advocated for school staff to receive specific training and on-going assistance in their own efforts to support students with behaviors;
  • Urged that parents and school staff work collaboratively to meet the needs of students with challenging behaviors;
  • Reminded us of the need to consider the unique perspective of each student — using what motivates individual youth to address problem behaviors.

Photo of behavior support speak out

Then it was your turn to speak up. We heard from parents and professionals who spoke compellingly about:

  • Wanting to know more about parents’ and students’ rights when behavior is concerning;
  • Fearing that behavior is often used as an excuse by school staff to move students out of their community schools;
  • Recognizing the need for training of all school staff, including building-wide staff, teachers, and paraprofessionals working with students who present with behavioral challenges;
  • Knowing that the schools need resources to put into place the supports described by the panel members;
  • Wanting to be sure that other, after-school opportunities are available to all students, including students with disabilities who have behavior needs.

For those of you who couldn’t be there on the 19th, but still wanted us to know your concerns, it’s not too late. Send us your stories to add to the record.  

For everyone, we remind you that sharing your story is not a request for legal advice, and if you are interested in getting specific assistance, we urge you to contact one of the ARISE Coalition member organizations that provides assistance and representation in school-related matters. 

Be on the lookout for news about our next panel and speak-out focused on Assistive Technology. We’re hoping to host that one sometime after the New Year.

************************************************************************************

On the evening of November 19, 2015, we are co-sponsoring a panel and parent speak out on behavior supports for students with disabilities. We hope you'll join us. Copies of the flyer are avaiilable in English and Spanish.

Flyer for behavior support speak-out

 

 

************************************************************************************

 

Flyer for ARISE Coalition literacy campaign

 

Download copies of our Call to Action in English, Spanish, and Chinese and visit our Change.org page to join us in calling on Chancellor Farina and the NYC DOE to make a long-term plan for preparing all schools to teach the skills students, including students with disaiblities, need to read and write.

 

 

************************************************************************************

 

On the evening of May 18, we are sponsoring a panel and parent speak out on literacy instruction for students with disabilities. We hope you'll join us. Copies of the flyer are avaiilable in English and Spanish.

Flyer for literacy speak-out

 

************************************************************************************

 

In January, Chancellor Fariña announced a reorganization of the New York City Department of Education school support structure to be put into place by September.  That reorganization will move power back to geographically-based Superintendents and create Borough Field Service Centers.   The members of the ARISE Coalition have offered several suggestions to the Department about how to make the reorganization successful for schools and families.  You can read our letter to the Chancellor here.

 

************************************************************************************

 

Thanks to all of you who shared testimony with the Education Committee of the City Council for yesterday’s hearing on the preliminary budget. ARISE presented at the hearing, urging the Council to fund an initiative proposed by the Mayor to support literacy development for students with disabilities, including students with dyslexia as a down payment on what we hope will be a longer-term commitment to ensuring that every student in NYC, with and without disabilities, learns to read proficiently. You can read our testimony here, and if you’d like to view the hearing, you can watch it here.

 

************************************************************************************

We were so glad to see so many parents and professionals at last night's panel/speak out, "Talking about Inclusive Education." If you couldn't make it, but want still to share your own story about inclusion and how it has worked for your child or any troubles you've encountered along the way to inclusion, we'd still love to hear from you. Please fill out the attached form and send it to us by email, US postal mail or fax.

 

Share your story form

 

************************************************************************************

On December 4th, at 5:30 pm, the ARISE Coalition and Parents for Inclusive Education will be co-sponsoring a panel/speak out with Parents for Inclusive Education, “Talking about Inclusive Education.”  We’ll start the evening with a panel of experts that includes: Claire Lowenstein, the Principal of PS 333 Manhattan School for Children; Kim Madden, a parent and Advocate from Advocates for Children of New York; and Srikala Naraian, an Associate Professor at Teachers College.  We’ll conclude the evening with time for parents and other stakeholders to share their stories about family and student experiences with inclusive education.   The event is free.  Refreshments will be served.  Spanish translation services will be available.  Download copies of the flyer in both English and Spanish.   For more on Parents for Inclusive Education see here.

 

************************************************************************************

 

With application deadlines approaching next month for both middle school and high school, there are several things we wanted to call to the attention of families of students with IEPs.

THE GENERAL PROCESS
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 will continue to do so. You can also read up on the schools that appeal to you and your child. If you don’t have one already, get a copy of the DOE’s middle school and high school directories. You can download the directories or visit your enrollment office for a hard copy if you prefer. Both middle school and high school applications will be due in December and interviews, school-based assessments, and auditions will occur in January and February.   

ACADEMICS
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 we also urge you to notify the schools ahead of any assessments planned to be sure accommodations are in place when your child gets there.  

FACTORS TO CONSIDER
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. Many of your questions can be answered by carefully reading the school directories and asking questions as you go on school tours. You can always reach out to the schools’ admissions team or Parent Coordinator as well for more information. Things we would urge you to consider include:

  • Location and travel time: Please note that if your child will need specialized transportation next year, the rules are the same as they were for elementary school. His or her IEP must identify any specialized transportation needs. To be sure all is in place next fall, we recommend that you bring copies of relevant evaluations and a completed Request for Medical Accommodations to your annual review this year, whenever that occurs.
  • School philosophy and culture.
  • School size.
  • Selection criteria and admissions methods.
  • Dress code.
  • Accessibility: If your child requires an accessible school, you are probably already well aware that only some of NYC’s public schools are functionally accessible, meaning a student who uses a wheelchair can enter the building and access all relevant programs and services. Others are partially accessible with students able to get to the first floor only. Some schools are not accessible at all. The DOE’s directories do list the accessibility status of each school and lists of accessible public schools can be found on the accessibility page for the DOE’s Office of Space Planning.  
  • Experience and track record meeting the needs of students with special education needs: While all community schools are required to create special education programs to meet the needs of their students, some schools may have more experience delivering special education services or devising special education programs for students with disabilities than others. When completing middle and high school applications for their children, we urge parents to consider what special education services are currently offered at the school, and how skillfully school staff modify the curriculum to accommodate students with disabilities. Finding this out may be difficult; to do so, we suggest you speak to staff at the schools you’re interested in, search a website with school reviews such as InsideSchools for feedback from current students and parents, and try contacting the DOE’s Office of Specialized Instruction and Student Services by writing to specialeducationreform@schools.nyc.gov or calling (718)935-2007.  
  • Extra-curricular activities offered at the school.
  • School accountability data, which can be found on the DOE’s website and on a number of independent sites such as InsideSchools and Schoolbook.
  • 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.

SPECIALIZED PROGRAMS
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. That way, if things change in the spring, you should have options in the community schools.

If you think your child might be eligible for one of the DOE’s programs that provide targeted supports and services for students with autism spectrum disorders or intellectual disabilities, or if your child will require bilingual special education services, your current IEP team should help you with the process. For more information about specialized programs, visit the DOE’s page on Specialized Programs or contact specializedprograms@schools.nyc.gov. As above, if your child is in one of these specialized programs this year, and there is a chance he or she will attend a community school program for middle or high school, speak to your current guidance counselor to complete a middle school or high school application. If your child does apply through both processes, know that your child may receive a specialized program offer and a community high school offer at which point you can make a decision about what’s in his or her best interests.   

For more information on both the middle school and high school processes, we urge you to look at the DOE’s website for the Office of Specialized Instruction and Student Services. You can also reach out to the Office of Student Enrollment.

For a copy of this information in a printable factsheet go here.

We hope the process goes smoothly for all of you, but if it does not, we remind you that many of the members of the ARISE Coalition may be able to help you navigate your way. A full list of our members and a list of resources, including advocacy organizations, can be found on our website.

 

 

************************************************************************************

Several members of the ARISE Coalition testified at the City Council’s Oversight hearing on Instruction for Students with Disabilities on October 8, 2014.   Read testimonies for: Advocates for Children of New York, The Cooke Center, The Metropolitan Parent Center at Sinergia, Parents for Inclusive Education, Resources for Children with Special Needs, and The United Federation of Teachers.  

 

************************************************************************************

 

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.

Facebook link

 

************************************************************************************

 

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 mmoroff@advocatesforchildren.org.

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. 

Sincerely,

 

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.

THE GENERAL PROCESS
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.

ACADEMICS
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.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER
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. 

MORE RESOURCES
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.

 

***************************************************************************************

 

wfullscreen>  

 

 

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.

 

***************************************************************************************

INCLUSION REQUIRES PARTICIPATION:
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:

************************************************************************************

PARENTS AND FRIENDS

BUSING - WHAT'S NEXT?

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 http://schools.nyc.gov/default.htm 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 specialeducationreform@schools.nyc.gov 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!

TAKE ACTION:
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 http://www.senate.state.ny.us/ and your NY Assembly Member at http://www.assembly.state.ny.us/mem/.  E-mail lists are available at http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/?sh=email and http://www.nysenate.gov/report/member-directory-212012.

Key legislators include:
Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried - GottfriedR@assembly.state.ny.us - 518-455-4941
Senate Health Committee Chair Kemp Hannon - hannon@nysenate.gov - 518-455-2200
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver - Speaker@assembly.state.ny.us - 518-455-3791
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos - skelos@nysenate.gov - 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 http://www.advocatesforchildren.org

 

***************************************************************************************

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.

***************************************************************************************

ATTENTION PARENTS OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
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:

 

BRONX
April 7, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Co-sponsored by the Bronx Independent Living Services

4419 Third Avenue, Suite 2C
Bronx, NY

www.bils.org

 

QUEENS
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

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Parents-for-Inclusive-Education-PIE/139569776103532 and www.advocatesforchildren.org

MANHATTAN
April 12, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Co-sponsored by Sinergia

2082 Lexington Avenue, 4th Floor
New York, NY

http://www.sinergiany.org/

 

STATEN ISLAND
April 27, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

          Co-sponsored by Parent to Parent NY, Inc.

1050 Forest Hill Road
Staten Island, NY

siptp@aol.com  

BROOKLYN
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

www.bcid.org and http://www.uwsofny.org/ (ahaught@uwsofny.org)

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 arise.coalition@yahoo.com

 

***************************************************************************************

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

Image - cover of Out of School and Unprepared 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 mmoroff@advocatesforchildren.org 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 mmoroff@advocatesforchildren.org 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 mmoroff@advocatesforchildren.org.  

 

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.

 

 

HOW TO GET HELP FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION IF YOUR CHILD HAS SPECIAL EDUCATION NEEDS

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.

 

CONTRACTS FOR EXCELLENCE

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.

 

DOE SPECIAL EDUCATION REORGANIZATION

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.

 

REPORT FROM THE ARISE COALITION - EDUCATE! INCLUDE! RESPECT! - April 2009

 

Cover image of Educate!  Include!  Respect!

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

 

 

 

 

HELP FOR IMMIGRANT PARENTS OF STUDENTS RECEIVING SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES

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.