Students with Disabilities

Special Education page photo

The UFT's special education department is led by Vice President for Special Education Carmen Alvarez. The UFT is here to support you. You will find helpful resources and information pertinent to every special education teacher on this part of the UFT website. Knowledge is power and by sharing information, we can better teach and advocate for all of the students in special education.

All teachers are, or will at some point in their careers, be teachers of students with disabilities. Nationally, in recent years, nearly 95 percent of students with disabilities aged 6 to 21 receive instruction in general education classrooms for some part of the school day. For both general and special educators this presents both opportunities and challenges. While educators are eager for all of their students to learn and achieve, they often feel ill equipped to meet their special needs.

The UFT supports members who work with students with disabilities in a number of ways. Broadly speaking, there are two major prongs to our work.

First, we strive to ensure that members have the conditions and support to deliver effective instruction. We do this by providing information on the laws, regulations and policies that govern special education and facilitating resolution of compliance issues in schools and classrooms through the special education complaint process and tools such as the Initial Planning Conference Checklist.

Second, we work to make sure that our special educators and related service providers have the knowledge and skills they need to do their jobs. This is accomplished by working collaboratively with the UFT Teacher Center, LearnUFT, the union’s state approved provider of continuing teacher and leader education (CTLE) hours, and the Department of Education on professional development.

We provide information and resources on evidence-based practices in workshops and on our website. We also identify systemic needs and develop initiatives to address them. Most recently this includes strengthening the IEP teacher’s role as an interventionist and supporting the growth of the Positive Learning Collaborative.

Additionally, we collaborate with parents, advocates and disability groups to improve services; visit schools at the request of the chapter leader; hold citywide meetings to provide information on new policy initiatives; work closely with functional chapters; and inform and engage members regarding legislative, regulatory and policy issues.

Contact your school’s chapter leader if you have questions or concerns about special education issues in your building. Additional support is also available from your UFT district representative and from the special education liaisons in the UFT borough offices.

Parents of students with disabilities are welcome to use this website to learn about the special education process and the laws, regulations and policies that govern the provision of services for their children. Additional information and guidance is also available on the New York City Department of Education’s special education website and the advocacy and disability organizations listed in the link below.

Members and parents with questions about special education may contact my office by email at calvarez@uft.org by phone at 212-598-9546.

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