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Oversight Hearing on FY22 Preliminary Budget

March 23, 2021

We would like to thank the New York City Council’s Committee on Education for holding this important oversight hearing on the City’s FY2022 Preliminary Budget.  My name is Lori Podvesker, and I am the Director of Policy at INCLUDEnyc. For the last 38 years, INCLUDEnyc (formerly Resources for Children with Special Needs) has helped hundreds of thousands of NYC families navigate the complex special education service and support systems.

With much gratitude, we commend the Department of Education and all staff at 1600+ schools for their unwavering commitment to our children and their families during this very challenging year. We testify today to urge the City to prioritize meeting the needs of the near 300,000 students with disabilities in the FY22 budget.

For too many years, our City chose to not allocate adequate funding to support the system with reducing the achievement gap between general education students and students receiving special education services. With help from the federal government on its way, the City can no longer say it does not have the resources to do so. The City must use these targeted funds appropriately to help students with disabilities begin to recover their academic losses, strengthen literacy skills, and make educational progress. An investment like this now will allow a historically underserved group, mostly black, indigenous and people of color to gain access in the near future to more opportunities, higher education, and employment. It will also support better integration into their communities.

As a result, we recommend City Council ensures there is adequate funding in the budget for the Department of Education to do the following:

  • Develop a citywide plan to adequately address compensatory services by June 30, 2021
  • Reevaluate every student with an IEP in FY22 
  • Immediately lift hiring freeze and hire additional licensed special education teachers, school psychologists, and related service providers 
  • Create borough-based centers this summer for on-site evaluations and related services
  • Disseminate guidance documents for schools on the implementation of their citywide compensatory plan by August 30, 2021
  • Provide compensatory services to all students who did not receive mandated special education services and specialized instruction as per their IEP since March 16, 2020
  • Provide parents with more support and training on: specially designed instruction and online learning, behavior supports, digital literacy, educational rights

Thank you for taking the time today to consider this important matter. We look forward to partnering with you to improve equity and access for all young people with disabilities in New York City.


Lori Podvesker

Director of Disability and Education Policy