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December 6, 2017
To help students with disabilities transition to adulthood, New York City is opening new resource hubs in every borough
Each of the five centers are scheduled to be open by the end of next school year.
September 20, 2017
Here’s what Carmen Fariña’s top deputies have on their plates this school year
Community schools, 3-K, and school diversity are all on the list.
an open forum
May 19, 2015
Fariña: System overhaul will improve special-ed issues
Strong superintendents, Fariña said, are "what it's all going to come down to."
September 22, 2014
Special education CEO Johannah Chase to be replaced by District 75 principal
Johannah Chase, the head of the school system's special-education office, is stepping down just months after taking the job.
August 11, 2014
Special-education overhaul leaves students less isolated, but schools struggle to keep up
New special-education policies have helped better integrate students with disabilities into the general-education system. But many educators have struggled to carry them out and some students have fallen through the cracks.
November 21, 2013
After city pays millions in SESIS overtime, complications remain
Special education teachers say it's a common feeling: the students are gone for the day, and it's time for the real work to begin. But if they need to record something on a student's Individualized Education Program, it's probably too late. Early efforts to curb overtime payments have now become policy, as the Department of Education reminds principals to keep staff members out of SESIS—the online system that tracks special education students—after the school day ends unless the principal has committed to pay for that time. The reminders were spurred by arbitration that ultimately cost the city $41 million in belated overtime to teachers and staff whose after-hours work violated union contracts. For months, some principals have been looking for ways to give teachers more time during the day to work with the notoriously glitchy system (made more frustrating by slow school Internet speeds). But teachers and principals say that serious problems remain, as students' information is now updated more slowly, data entry takes time away from student interaction, and some teachers continue to work without pay. "Is that the reality? Of course it's the reality," said Carmen Alvarez, the UFT's vice president for special education, of the continuing issues. "Do I like it? No. Did we tell it to the DOE three years ago in writing? Yes."
October 28, 2013
New data provide a glimpse at citywide special ed reform efforts
The city's special education reforms have moved thousands of students out of specialized classes citywide, according to data shared by Department of Education officials on Friday. But city officials and special education advocates alike said it remained too soon to tell whether the systemwide changes have improved student performance. Of the 142,220 students with disabilities in the school system last November who are still enrolled this fall, 5,312 fewer were recommended for self-contained classes this year and another 5,612 fewer were recommended for integrated co-teaching classes, which mix special education and general education students. There was a corresponding bump in students receiving only part-time services. That shift reflects the city’s effort to integrate special education students into mainstream schools and classrooms, changes that were piloted in some schools in 2011-12 and rolled out citywide last year. Those changes were meant to align city policy with research showing that special education students do better when they learn alongside peers without disabilities.
July 23, 2013
Special education chief steers talk away from SESIS issues
On Monday, Comptroller John Liu released an audit that turned the public's attention to the city's special education data system, which has received significant criticism in the past. Last week, we spoke to Corinne Rello-Anselmi, the deputy chancellor of special education. I asked her about the most important initiatives in special education and she didn't mention the data system; rather, she talked about the bigger picture of special education in the city. Here are some of the most interesting takeaways from our conversation. How her personal experience led to a focus on the importance of inclusion in special education Rello-Anselmi was appointed deputy chancellor in April 2012 after Laura Rodriguez, the first-ever deputy chancellor for special education, stepped down. It was a critical moment for special education policy in New York City, with reforms to the system just months from rolling out in full. Rello-Anselmi joined central administration as a seasoned insider working in the field, having worked in city schools for 33 years. She began her teaching career at P.S. 108 in the Bronx as a self-contained special education teacher. Later, she served as principal of the school for ten years.
March 14, 2013
City releases limited data about impact of special ed changes
Three years after launching an effort to integrate more students with special needs in mainstream classrooms, the Department of Education has some news about the initiative's effects. The department today released data showing that students with special needs in schools that participated in the first phase of the initiative saw their test scores improve more than students with disabilities at similar schools that were not in the program. Their attendance rates rose and suspension rates fell more than the students with disabilities at similar schools, too. And as the initiative expanded citywide this year, students frequently moved to less restrictive classroom settings in sixth and ninth grade, the years where the department required schools to serve all eligible students, regardless of their disability. The information partially satisfied special education advocates, who are on board with the goals of the city's reforms but have been clamoring for more data about the reforms' impact for more than a year. "From what I am seeing here it looks like there are positive trends — but I'm not seeing everything here that I want to," said Maggie Moroff, who heads the ARISE Coalition of advocates.
September 21, 2012
Rello-Anselmi defends special ed reforms from District 6 critics
Deputy Chancellor Corinne Rello-Anselmi talks to families from District 6 at a Citywide Council on Special Education's monthly meeting. Two weeks into the school year, fears about the rollout of special education reforms are turning into reality at some schools, according to parents and teachers from Upper Manhattan who met with the Department of Education’s top special education official Thursday evening. But the official, Corinne Rello-Anselmi, said she has “been holding feet to the fire” to make sure that students are getting what they need despite the changes, which are bringing more students with disabilities to neighborhood schools that have served few students with special needs in the past. The sweeping reforms have been underway for two years now, but most schools are only seeing the changes take effect this year. They were designed help schools integrate more students with learning disabilities into general education classrooms, and in the process bring the city up to speed with research that shows that special education students are more successful when they learn alongside students without disabilities. Parents, educators, and advocates have warned that the department might be moving too fast and giving schools too little help to make the seismic changes. And at a meeting on Thursday of the Citywide Council on Special Education, a parent group that the city is required to support, some parents and educators said their experiences so far suggested that the warnings were well founded. Yadira Cruz, a public school teacher and the mother of a sixth grader who has Asperger syndrome, said she sent her daughter to middle school at P.S. 187 in Washington Heights this year expecting the school to meet her daughter’s needs. Her daughter’s Individualized Education Plan calls for her to be in a small class composed exclusively of students with special needs. But Cruz said her daughter was placed instead into a larger class that contains both students with disabilities and students without special needs. And a week into the school year, P.S. 187 started asking her to find another school, Cruz told Rello-Anselmi, even though she said the options for transferring at this stage in the year are limited.
July 20, 2012
At a critical moment, a new special education chief takes over
The new head of special education at the Department of Education thinks long-planned reforms to the way city schools educate students with special needs are likely to be "very rocky" when they roll out this fall. But Corinne Rello-Anselmi believes that not making radical changes would be far more damaging. That's what she told a group of parents who sit on a special education advisory board Thursday evening. It was Rello-Anselmi's formal introduction to the board, the Citywide Council on Special Education, since taking over this month as deputy chancellor of special education and English language learning. She replaces Laura Rodriguez, the first person to hold that position. Under Rodriguez's leadership, the city launched sweeping reforms designed to integrate students with disabilities into classroom settings alongside their peers. Those reforms have been underway in some schools for two years. But for most schools, the changes are taking effect only this year, bringing a new level of scrutiny to the special education deputy position.
June 12, 2012
Council hearing sheds dim light on special education reforms
Leroy Comrie, a councilman from Queens, speaks at NYC Parents Union rally before the city council hearing. After months of waiting to hear the results of a pilot program for the city's special education reforms, many advocates hoped they would finally get some answers today at a City Council hearing. But when Department of Education officials sat down to testify, there were few revelations. It's not that the DOE was witholding any new information. It was just that no such data yet existed, said Laura Rodriguez, the outgoing Deputy Chancellor of Special Education. Rodriquez said they had so far collected data for only a couple of measures – such as attendance and the rate of movement of students with special needs into general education settings – and that they hadn't focused on other key metrics. Advocates say that other important measures of success include suspension rates and parent surveys.
April 16, 2012
City's top special education deputy retiring as reforms roll out
The Department of Education's first-ever deputy chancellor for special education and English language learners is stepping down. Laura Rodriguez will leave the department at the end of June after 34 years working in the school system, Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced today. He has appointed Corinne Rello-Anselmi, a 33-year veteran who currently heads a branch of the department's school support structure, to replace Rodriguez. Rello-Anselmi began her career as a special education teacher and was briefly a deputy chancellor for special education after serving as principal of P.S. 108 in the Bronx. Then-Chancellor Joel Klein created the position, which supervises the instruction of about a quarter of a million children, in 2009 after department officials concluded a months-long review of the city's special education practices. Rodriguez, whose background was in supporting ELLs, was charged with integrating students with special needs into city schools. Under her leadership, the department selected about 200 schools that would accommodate all students. This fall, after a one-year delay, that pilot program is supposed to grow to include all city schools in a shift that some advocates and parents fear could be problematic for schools. The city has also proposed changing the way that schools are funded so that they have an incentive to spread students with special needs across all classrooms. "There's a lot of work that needs to be done between now and September to make that successful, so anyone coming in will have to jump right in," said Maggie Moroff, coordinator of the ARISE Coalition of special education advocacy groups. Moroff said she was surprised by the news of Rodriguez's retirement and had not met Rello-Anselmi during her monthly meetings with Rodriguez and other department officials.
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