A recent report from New York State Education (NYSE) revealed that one-fifth of the approximate 200,000 kids with disabilities in New York City didn’t get tutoring, therapy or other help required by city law during the 2017-2018 school year.
According to the report, 73 percent of students were described as “fully receiving” the classroom services they needed in the last school year — a significant increase from the year before, when just 59 percent of students were reported to have done so.
Despite that improvement, more than 37,000 students only partially received their services last year or did not get them at all.
“Federal law requires that all students with disabilities have a right to a free appropriate public education. However, about 40,000+ students are receiving partial or no services, such as speech therapy or counseling,” Barbara Glassman, Executive Director of INCLUDEnyc, a non-profit offering educational resources to young people with disabilities, told Metro.
“Without services, students with disabilities lag behind their peers academically and about half of the students with disabilities in NYC public schools do not graduate,” she added.
Lori Podvesker, a mother of a disabled kid and Senior Manager of Disability and Education Policy at INCLUDEnyc, is not happy with how her son has been treated at his NYC school.
“As a special education student, my son does not receive the same quality of education as his peers in general education,” Podvesker told Metro.
Lori explains that even when students are fully receiving services, the schools still can’t implement them as intended.
“A physical therapy session, for example, might require an adaptive gym and equipment. Schools typically don’t have those resources,” Podvesker said.
Meeting the needs of disabilities is a focus area
In a statement, NYC Chancellor Richard Carranza said that a major focus area for them is to meet the needs of kids with disabilities.
“All students deserve to learn at the highest level and we’ll continue to invest in serving all our students with disabilities,” Carranza said.
Former Chancellor Carmen Fariña explained in a statement that they have made major investments to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities, including hiring more staff, opening new programs and expanding partnerships with providers but that it takes time to see the improvements.
“We are building on this work and improving our data tracking capabilities to ensure we deliver for students and families,” Fariña said.
Podvesker believes that all students should ideally receive all of their services from the very beginning of the school year.
In the meantime, she suggests that NYC could set up service centers in each borough. She explains that in after-school settings, students could receive services, like physical, speech and occupational therapy that they did not during the school day.
“There is a direct relationship between receiving services and academic performance,” Podvesker said.