Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Speak Out on Services for Children with Special Needs

On April 12, the MPC co-sponsored a Speak-Out event along with the ARISE coalition. The Speak Out, or ¡Hablando Claro! in Spanish, was an opportunity for parents of children with special education needs to voice their concerns with the provision of special education services before elected officials, the Department of Education and key stakeholders. The event was attended by a diverse parent population who don not often get a chance to speak.  In repeated instances, and many trying to withhold long pent-up emotions, the parents reported feeling anguish over their child not having made progress after years of special education services. Others described being treated with disrespect by school staff and/or their child refusing to go to school. One parent told of her son having been in District 75 since the age of 8, when he was classified as emotionally disturbed. She was repeatedly called to pick up her child due to his disruptive behavior and asked to increase his medication. Now 17 years of age, he is still in District 75 with the ED classification, despite having matured and his behavior calmed. When the parent sought a reclassification and move to a community school, to her dismay the school psychologist suggested re-classifying her son as mentally retarded and placing him in a 12:1:4 program (a program for multiply disabled), stating that this way she could continue getting SSI services. Sinergia and the MPC laud the courage and perseverance of the parents who poured their hearts out in testimony and shared their challenging experiences in trying to secure special education services for their children.

NYC Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio made an appearance and heard the parent's stories. Stating that he was very concerned about the issues with special education, the Public Advocate announced that his Office was conducting a survey which parents were invited to complete. The surveys are being collected through the month of May, after which their outcomes will be reported and published.

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