City Must Prioritize Students with Disabilities During Pandemic

New York, NY, November 4, 2020—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: 

The data and missing data within this report indicate that the City is failing to provide special education to students with disabilities. Nearly 32,000 students did not fully receive their mandated related services last school year. Related services, which are speech, physical, and occupational therapy, and counseling, are critical services for students with disabilities that they need to make educational progress. 

These lack of services will only widen the existing achievement gap between general education students and students with disabilities. And the lack of services is probably far worse than the data indicate. From March-June, the City was unable to provide data on related services, yet we know through our direct work with families that these services have been largely interrupted for students. 

The data also show that bilingual students with disabilities and their families, in particular, face significant barriers. For bilingual students with IEPs, 32% who receive bilingual counseling and 18% mandated for bilingual speech therapy did not receive any or all of their mandated services.

Even in the current environment, our City must provide more learning and social opportunities for students with disabilities. Too many students with disabilities, 55,000 in total, more than the capacity of Yankee Stadium, spent the majority of their school days in segregated settings last year, not included with their general education peers. Isolation is a problem now and inclusion remains a persistent issue that must be addressed--our students’ success depends on it.

To speak to INCLUDEnyc about this report, please contact jreres@includenyc.org.