Statement on NYCDOE Annual Special Ed Data Report

CITY NEEDS TO IMPROVE THE INCLUSION OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES AND SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES 

 

After reviewing the Annual Special Education Data Report released by the NYC Department of Education (NYCDOE), Barbara A. Glassman, Executive Director of INCLUDEnyc, made the following statement:

We appreciate the NYCDOE’s efforts on improving the special education process, delivery of services, and educating students with disabilities alongside general education students to the greatest extent possible. However, as evidenced in this report, there is still much more that needs to be done.

Nearly 57,000 students with disabilities still spend the majority of their school day in self-contained classrooms. It is unacceptable that almost 30% of all students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) continue to be educated in segregated settings year after year. We urge the City to expand its initiatives on diversity and equity to better address the inclusion of all young people with disabilities and to develop a citywide plan on integrating the 25,000 students attending District 75 programs. 

The City also needs to improve special education services. Although we are pleased that the City added sixty new school-based psychologists last school year, there is still a pressing need for more psychologists who are responsible for evaluations. In fact, 30% of IEP meetings were not held within the legal timeline last year for students being evaluated and classified for the first time, delaying services and classroom placements.  

We commend the City for reporting a five percent increase this year in the number of students with disabilities fully receiving instruction and at least some of their services in their recommended programs by the last day of school. Unfortunately, 29,000 students did not receive any or only received part of their special education supports in their recommended setting and program by the end of the year. More than 12,700 students did not receive all their mandated related services such as speech and occupational therapy or counseling. 

We are disappointed that this report fails to provide snapshots on the percentages of related services delivered at multiple times of the year, despite the amendments made last year to Local Law 27 and enacted by City Council. As a result, we do not know when services and appropriate placements begin for students with disabilities or the frequency of the delivery of services. 

The need for improvement right now is critical. Educational outcomes for students with disabilities are directly related to students receiving timely evaluations and services. General education students in Grades 3-8 are three times more proficient in English and Math than students with disabilities and only 50% of students with disabilities in NYC public schools graduate on time compared to 82% of their non-disabled peers.  

To speak to Barbara Glassman or Lori Podvesker, Director of Education and Disability Policy (lpodvesker@includenyc.org), about this report, please contact Jennifer Reres, jreres@includenyc.org.