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NYC: >200 pre-K SPED students on waiting list; number of kids with IEPs tripled

June 25, 2019, Brooklyn (NY) Eagle: More than 200 kids are still waiting for special ed pre-K seats While their peers attend universal pre-K programs across the city, many children with special needs are still waiting for seats. New York City is in need of more than 400 special education preschool seats as of May 29, according to a recently re-released New York State Education Department memo. … “We have heard from parents desperate for their preschoolers to get the help they need, but who have been sitting at home for months waiting for a seat, while their peers attend universal pre-K classes,” Randi Levine, policy director of Advocates for Children of New York, told the Brooklyn Eagle. … For Victor, a Gravesend boy with autism, finally getting into an appropriate preschool program made a significant difference, according to his mother. In August 2018, the city Department of Education told Victor’s parents that, while he needed special placement, there were no seats available. It wasn’t until January — nearly half a year later — that Victor got into a new special education preschool program – on the other end of the borough, in Williamsburg. Victor spends around two hours on a bus, each way, every school day…. Despite the push, Cuomo only approved a two percent increase in the rates for the 2019-2020 school year – “the same insufficient rate increase as past years,” Levine explained, “and far less than the rate increase recommended” by stakeholders like the state’s Education Department, the Assembly and the Senate. … The updated state Education Department memo comes even after the city’s Department of Education opened new preschool special education classes for 330 children between January and April of this year – something, Levine said, that points to just how great the need is. But, according to the DOE, more students with Individualized Education Programs are enrolled in pre-K (and 3-K) than ever before. An IEP is a roadmap for special education. A student with an IEP has special needs, but may also be enrolled in standard classes. “Across the 3-K and Pre-K for All expansion, we have more than tripled the number of children with IEPs attending free, full-day, high-quality 3-K and pre-K,” DOE spokesperson Danielle Filson told the Eagle. “That number is approximately 6,000, up from 1,700 before the pre-K expansion. This includes substantially increasing our offerings of special class and special class integrated settings in DOE schools.” … “For children with autism and other disabilities, receiving intervention as early as possible is critical. Parents, desperate for their children to get help, have instead watched their children languish while waiting for seats in preschool programs,” she said. “The DOE must ensure there is a preschool special class seat for every child who needs one.”…


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