Posts tagged "Special Education"
April 30, 2013
The city doled out $38.5 million in back pay to schools staff who were wrongly required to work overtime on a buggy special education data system, according to payment details released today by the education department.
Nearly 30,000 therapists, special education teachers, paraprofessionals, guidance counselors, social workers and psychologists received the overtime payments this month after an independent arbitrator ruled in January that the Department of Education violated the United Federation of Teachers’ contract. The first round of payments, on April 12, totaled $2.6 million for 1,700 occupational and physical therapists and the second and final payment — $35.9 million — went out to the rest of employees today.
The total number of educators who qualified for overtime far exceeded UFT’s estimates, which hovered at around 10,000. The UFT filed the labor complaint in mid-2011, charging that staff should not have been required to work outside of their contractual school day. (more…)
March 14, 2013
Three years after launching an effort to integrate more students with special needs in mainstream classrooms, the Department of Education has some news about the initiative’s effects.
The department today released data showing that students with special needs in schools that participated in the first phase of the initiative saw their test scores improve more than students with disabilities at similar schools that were not in the program. Their attendance rates rose and suspension rates fell more than the students with disabilities at similar schools, too.
And as the initiative expanded citywide this year, students frequently moved to less restrictive classroom settings in sixth and ninth grade, the years where the department required schools to serve all eligible students, regardless of their disability.
The information partially satisfied special education advocates, who are on board with the goals of the city’s reforms but have been clamoring for more data about the reforms’ impact for more than a year.
“From what I am seeing here it looks like there are positive trends — but I’m not seeing everything here that I want to,” said Maggie Moroff, who heads the ARISE Coalition of advocates. (more…)
February 1, 2013
One month into 2013, Maria Uruchima has already used up almost all of her sick and personal days getting her son to school.
On the verge of pulling him out of school, she found a partial solution to scheduling nightmare created by the bus strike — but one that still leaves her missing work and commuting almost four hours each day.
“I’ve started writing letters to the chancellor and the mayor saying, this is my situation,” Uruchima said. “I’m one of those parents that’s really struggling. I can’t afford to keep my son home because you guys aren’t getting it together. What can I do to help move this process along?” (more…)
January 29, 2013
Following up on his promise to detail school budget cuts required by the collapse of a teacher evaluation deal earlier this month, Mayor Bloomberg today described how he plans to reduce costs in the Department of Education’s central administration.
The rest of the $250 million funding will cut come from schools, Bloomberg said during a press conference in which he announced the first city budget revision to reflect costs incurred from Hurricane Sandy.
In addition to the cuts that Chancellor Dennis Walcott outlined in an email to principals on Monday, Bloomberg said he would restrict hiring centrally and eliminate vacancies in areas such as administration, human resources, budget, and help desk staff.
He said the city would also cut non-personnel costs–the costs of running an office that don’t include staff salaries–in administrative and field-based offices by 90 percent, and reduce spending on contracts for services such as youth development, professional development, and anti-bullying programs. (more…)
January 23, 2013
The city is taking new steps to get students to school after a full week without regular school bus service.
With attendance in schools for students with disabilities below two-thirds for the fifth straight day, the Department of Education is moving both to help families with transportation and to get new bus drivers on the road faster.
Department officials announced today that they had revised the terms of the contracts that they plan to offer bus companies so that the companies can begin transporting students sooner than Sept. 1, the original date the new contracts were supposed to begin. It was the department’s omission of seniority protections from the contract terms that led the school bus drivers union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181, to call a strike last week.
The department also unveiled details of a new initiative, first announced at a meeting about special education last week, to assist families with transportation costs. (more…)
January 18, 2013
The Department of Education will begin helping families who cannot afford to wait to have their transportation costs reimbursed during the school bus strike, the department’s top special education official told the Citywide Council on Special Education Thursday night. … This sounds like a great partial solution. But it does not solve the fact that this strike has put unnecessary stress on over 150,000 students, including 52,000 with disabilities, and their families. (more…)
January 15, 2013
In her first major education policy address, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn signaled that she would depart in significant ways from Mayor Bloomberg’s approach to running the city’s schools.
Instead of pitting schools against each other, as Bloomberg’s policies have, Quinn said she would push them to collaborate. Instead of directing funds to pricey consultants, she said she would look for solutions within the system. And where Bloomberg spurred rapid growth in the city’s charter school sector, Quinn said she would keep the sector at its current size.
But on other issues, Quinn suggested that she would take a cue from the Bloomberg administration. For example, she said she would improve “customer service” to help families resolve problems but said only that she would “engage parents in relevant decisions and keep them in the loop.” One of Bloomberg’s first school policy changes, back in 2002, was to add parent coordinators to each school. But he has drawn sharp criticism for excluding parents from policy decisions.
Quinn’s ambitious list of education proposals includes extending school days, coordinating city services to provide comprehensive health and social services in schools, boosting literacy instruction, slashing some state testing, and buying a million tablets to replace textbooks. (more…)
January 14, 2013
The Department of Education is rolling back some special education policies that drew sharp criticism last week from many principals.
The principals were alarmed by a deadline, originally set for today, to “clean up” data about students with disabilities. The deadline raised concerns that the department would take back funds from schools whose students fell into lower-than-anticipated funding tiers.
“The last-minute data capture has left us scrambling to account for potentially massive cuts to our budgets halfway through the school year,” 20 principals wrote Thursday in a letter to Chancellor Dennis Walcott.
In an email sent late Friday, the department’s chief financial officer, Michael Tragale, told principals that the department would push back the deadline and relax a particularly anxiety-inducing rule so schools could retain their special education funds. (more…)
January 10, 2013
Principals are pushing back against the Department of Education’s plan to seize money from schools whose special education students narrowly miss a bureaucratic cutoff.
Responding to the concerns, department officials said they would issue new guidance to principals that clarifies the department’s commitment to funding special education programs adequately and helping schools keep their budgets stable.
The confusion followed a change in the way the department allocates funds to schools this year as part of a reform effort aimed at helping students with disabilities. The change created tiers of funding levels: The more time special education students spend in classes mixed with general education students, the more money their schools get.
Many principals are finding out for the first time this week, because of a deadline to clean up special education data, that students they thought would bring in a higher rate fall into a lower tier instead — and the department could take back the difference in funds.
“The last-minute data capture has left us scrambling to account for potentially massive cuts to our budgets halfway through the school year,” 20 principals wrote in a letter to Chancellor Dennis Walcott today. “And it is because of our strong commitment to flexible programming and the other cornerstones of the Special Education reform that our cuts will be so dramatic.” (more…)
January 10, 2013
Changes meant to help schools overhaul their special education programs have instead left principals scrambling for a budget fix.
Middle and high school principals are learning this week that the Department of Education is planning to take back thousands of dollars earmarked to help their schools serve students with special needs — over a budget technicality.
“Students with disabilities are the ones who lose out in this — and schools’ ability to provide what [students] need,” said a principal whose school faces a cut.
The issue stems from a new funding formula adopted this year as part of the Department of Education’s efforts to bring students with disabilities out of self-contained classes whenever possible. (more…)