The UFT’s District 75 is the most unique of all the districts. What sets us apart from all other districts is that we have 350 sites over the five boroughs, including home and hospital sites. We are 12,000-plus strong, making us the largest district — and one of the largest constituent groups — in the UFT, including all staff titles found in the community schools: teachers, teaching assistants, paraprofessionals, guidance counselors, social workers, nurses and many others.
Our members serve students with the most severe disabilities and truly believe that all children can learn. All new special education practices are piloted in District 75 before they ever reach our city’s community schools. For example, in the reorganization of special education services across the city, District 75 educators have been called upon to support the community schools.
We are also active advocates for improvements to the city’s special education services and deeply involved in the life of our union. District 75 members have participated in the UFT’s “No Excuses” campaign to preserve IEPs for special-needs students and in the union’s fight against school closings and budget cuts. We have also held principles to rules about the length of the school day — many students previously were not receiving a full day of instruction — and about travel time for service-providers to ensure students receive a full 30 minutes of services.
Our members are involved in innovative programs that include a partnership with Pace University to support students with autism who are transitioning to college; the STOP program that sends District 75 staff to community schools to help keep students who would otherwise be sent to the District in the least restrictive learning environments; and a wide array of initiatives to teach children with autism, a field in which our teachers are leaders.
Educators from other cities, states and countries come to New York to learn from District 75’s work with students with special needs!
Finally, we are very proud that District 75 school 37R, on Staten Island, was voted the best Elementary School in America in May 2010. This recognition is a credit to the hard work and commitment of our members.