Special Education News

National education and labor news | February 23, 2012

Back in 2000, disability rights groups challenged the Milwaukee Public Schools and the state’s Department of Public Instruction over how they find and serve children with special needs. The advocates won in every lower court. On Feb. 3, a federal appeals court panel ruled for the school district, saying former students with special needs could not legally be considered a class, meaning that any suit had to represent discrete individuals.

News stories | February 2, 2012

Ten years into Bloomberg’s education reforms, the New York City school system has come full circle and is now shutting down new high schools at the same rate as old ones. High schools established by Bloomberg represent about 40 percent of all existing high schools and 38 percent of the high schools on the closing list.

Editorials | February 2, 2012

It should come as no surprise that a January audit by New York City Comptroller John Liu determined that the city failed to provide individual special education services to many of the students who qualified for such help during the 2009-10 school year.

Around the UFT | February 2, 2012

Just hours after Mayor Michael Bloomberg lashed out at the UFT during his State of the City address on Jan. 12, UFT President Michael Mulgrew held a Meet the President event with District 10 members.

Around the UFT | January 19, 2012

Paperwork, SESIS compliance, testing and more testing — all the things that take time away from instruction — were a prevalent theme at the Meet the President event for members from Districts 27 and 28, held at the UFT’s Queens borough office on Dec. 13.

News stories | December 22, 2011

Giving a performance — including songs, funny routines and whacky props — “is a gift that is always the right size, always the right color, never has to be returned and stays as a memory forever,” said teacher and impressario extraordinaire Dina Marks, who runs the annual holiday concert performed by special education students at PS 63 in Ozone Park.

Vperspective | December 22, 2011

Our strong alliance with parents, advocates, disability groups and professional organizations was on display this fall as we together fought another series of cost-containment proposals for special education made by the State Education Department.

Around the UFT | December 22, 2011

Some schools are lucky to get one visit from Santa’s helpers. East Harlem’s PS 811, the Mickey Mantle School, housed in PS 101, got two, and both on Dec. 7.

Around the UFT | December 22, 2011

At an early-morning visit to PS 197 and IS 381 — two schools that share a building in Midwood, Brooklyn — on Dec. 6, UFT President Michael Mulgrew revealed to educators that a new education funding increase was being discussed in Albany.

News stories | December 22, 2011

The Department of Education has failed to provide the equipment, time, training and support that UFT members need to do work involving the Special Education Student Information System. The union is doing everything it can to force the DOE to come up with a sound and reasonable plan.

Chapter news | November 29, 2011

Our chapter has been very active and has held monthly general membership and new teacher meetings. This has been a challenging year and I want you to know that I will continue to advocate on your behalf. Please make an effort to come to our monthly meetings or become a volunteer liaison and share our information with other speech providers in your network. Feel free to reach out to your executive board members or current liaison to get support and information.

Around the UFT | November 24, 2011

Tourette Syndrome, the neurological condition that causes people to make repeated, quick muscle movements — called tics — or sounds that they cannot control, is getting needed attention from UFT members.

News stories | November 24, 2011

UFT President Michael Mulgrew opened the Nov. 9 Delegate Assembly with some good news: in Ohio the previous day, voters turned back by a 61-39 percent margin an attempt to prevent public-sector workers from being able to bargain collectively. He noted that 25 UFT retirees and staffers had been on the ground in Ohio, knocking on doors and making phone calls to talk about the issue and get out the vote.

Around the UFT | November 10, 2011

District 21 members at a Meet the President event in Coney Island on Oct. 24 heard from both UFT President Michael Mulgrew and Secretary Michael Mendel, who assured members that “no new evaluation system is in place except at the 33 Restart and Transformation schools.” By law, the new system must first be negotiated with the UFT, he said.

Around the UFT | November 10, 2011

In his meeting with some 250 UFT members from District 31 and BASIS high schools on Oct. 25, UFT President Michael Mulgrew discussed many of the challenges and issues that New York City educators must deal with these days.

Around the UFT | October 27, 2011

Scores of busy hands and gallons of primary color paints transformed the cafeteria, gymnasium and doors of PS 396, a District 75 school for multiply handicapped students in Brooklyn, on Oct 15 — Volunteer for Schools Day. Staff worked with 30 volunteers from New York Cares for a marathon Sunday makeover at the K-8 Brownsville school.

News stories | October 27, 2011

At the Oct. 19 Delegate Assembly, the first since the summer break, UFT President Michael Mulgrew reported on principals abusing the teacher evaluation system, the dysfunctional Special Education Student Information System and the need to make the state’s richest pay their fair share of taxes.

Editorials | October 27, 2011

The new Special Education Student Information System (SESIS) put in place by the Department of Education has great potential as a central database. But in typical DOE fashion, the agency has turned the initiative into a massive problem for UFT members by not providing them with the time, equipment, training or support they need to make it work.

Chapter news | October 21, 2011

I usually write this newsletter early in September, but it was delayed because of the urgent priority of my responding right away to the many calls and emails I received about the "SESIS mess." We have filed a complaint with PERB, charging the Board with violating the Taylor Law by failing to ensure that you have the equipment you need to use SESIS and by increasing the number of hours you are required to work.

News | October 14, 2011

The Oct. 15 deadline for inputting encounter attendance information in the Special Education Student Information System (SESIS) is looming for those of you who teach students with special needs and, in many cases, your supervisors and principals are telling you to just get it done. From your phone calls and emails, we know you are working during your lunch, preparation periods, after school and at home and are still finding the task impossible to complete.

Around the UFT | September 22, 2011
For her years working with children with special needs, the New York City chapter of the Tourette Syndrome Association honored Vice President for Special Education Carmen Alvarez with a plaque and its many thanks.
Vperspective | September 8, 2011

This fall, the state Board of Regents will be making recommendations to the state Legislature on another package of cost-containment measures. This isn’t new. Special education is a very large target because it is expensive and it has a lot of requirements. But this time is different.

News | August 11, 2011

UFT members who work with students with disabilities have expressed deep concerns about special education cost-saving proposals currently being weighed by the state Board of Regents. The Regents are considering whether to recommend legislation to remove school psychologists from IEP teams, eliminate requirements for certain assessments as part of the initial evaluation and do away with planning and support services for students who are decertified.

News | June 30, 2011

More than a dozen UFT school psychologists uniformly panned latest “mandate relief” proposals from the state Board of Regents at a state Education Department hearing in Brooklyn on June 28. At issue are guidelines that would waive the requirement that school psychologists and specific psychological evaluations be part of Committee on Special Education (CSE) processes.

Around the UFT | June 23, 2011

Special education teachers and paraprofessionals were recognized for their work in valuing students with disabilities at the “Celebrate Inclusion” event staged by the Department of Education’s Division of Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners and the special education group Parents for Inclusive Education on May 26 at Baruch College’s Mason Hall, Manhattan.

News stories | June 23, 2011

With the threat of 4,200 teacher layoffs still looming as the school year draws to a close, an angry Michael Mulgrew called on the delegates to be prepared to hit the streets this summer in the event that even one teacher receives a pink slip.

Around the UFT | May 26, 2011

More than 100 special education teachers turned out on Sunday, May 15, to join UFT Vice President for Special Education Carmen Alvarez for the first workshop in a two-part series on “Executive Functioning and the School Experience.”

Around the UFT | May 26, 2011

Until he came to the United States, he never knew there was such a thing as speech therapy. The student felt like a freak, was teased, was filled with shame and secretly dreamed of fluency in speech and success in life.

Around the UFT | May 26, 2011

For the sixth straight year, the Friends of District 75 honored individuals whose advocacy has benefited students with special needs. This year's gala, at Brooklyn's El Caribe on April 28, was not only a testimonial to their impact but a fundraiser to help send several special needs children to summer camp.

Vperspective | May 26, 2011

Tucked away on a back street in East New York, Brooklyn, is a wonderful, warm small school at PS 273. It felt like a community school from the old days. In the library, I spoke with Ms. Silver, a retired bookkeeper and community member who has been volunteering there for more than 14 years.

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