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Students with Disabilities Need More Support for Back to School

September 16, 2020

New York, NY, September 16, 2020—With the need for more resources and accountability around communication, instruction, related services, busing, and other supports for students with disabilities this fall, INCLUDEnyc’s Executive Director Barbara Glassman made the following statement:

The entire school system as we know it has been gutted as a result of the current public health crisis and state of our economy. As we reopen our schools, we are implementing a new education model. We call on the City to strengthen their communication with families and schools to better address how they will meet the educational and social-emotional needs of the hundreds of thousands of students with disabilities and their families.

While we are pleased the City recently released some new guidance on the special education process and the delivery of supports and services, we are still concerned about the quality of instruction, as well as the extent in which students can meaningfully access related services, busing, and other supports this fall. During COVID-related school closure, many students with disabilities missed specialized instruction and related services because they lacked a device, internet, or learning materials in their language—and these disparities continue to persist.

This fall, many schools still don’t know how they realistically and effectively can make special education work for teachers and providers, or how students can make educational progress with expected teacher shortages and limited resources. We also are concerned about the lack of guidance for students attending District 75 programs, particularly how trauma-informed instruction will be delivered to students with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

The City needs to make our kids a priority right now and provide more details on how they will stop the widening achievement gap between general education students and students with disabilities. We need immediate action. The quality of our childrens’ lives depends on it.