Success Academy and the Department of Education Agree on Blueprint for Improving Special Education Process
admin – August 28, 2019
**For Immediate Release August 28, 2019**
Liz Baker, 646-902-4200
Brian Whitley, 510-495-5542
SUCCESS ACADEMY AND THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AGREE ON BLUEPRINT FOR IMPROVING SPECIAL EDUCATION PROCESS
New York, NY — Success Academy Charter Schools won a resounding victory for students with disabilities and their families today in a settlement of a lawsuit Success Academy had brought seeking improvements in the system for evaluating students for special education services.
Success Academy parents filed suit in federal court last July against the Committee on Special Education 1, which handles the special education process for charter students in three Bronx school districts. Their Complaint describes how children endured systemic delays in obtaining approval for special education services.
“These reforms to the approval process will enable us to provide special education services more expeditiously, which is crucial to the success of our students with learning disabilities,” said Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy. “We hope these reforms become a model for all of the Committees on Special Education across the city.”
CSE 1 has agreed to take steps to evaluate students more quickly and fairly. The reforms include holding initial intake meetings sooner, conducting classroom observations in the same school year they are requested, and not using redundant assessments. In addition, the city has provided additional funding to the CSE to hire more staff.
“The system was broken, so we had to take a stand for our kids,” said Johanna Castillo, one of the parent plaintiffs. “I’m so happy about the agreement because it means that more students, including my son, can now receive the services they’re supposed to receive and in the timeframe they’re supposed to receive them.”
Last year, CSE 1’s delays caused Success parents in the Bronx to wait an average of 162 days merely for a decision about whether their kids were eligible for an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, which governs the provision of city-funded support services. Federal law requires such a decision within 60 days.
The measures the CSE has agreed to take to correct the problems include:
Starting the process for obtaining an IEP when the request for services is received — rather than when office staff open the envelope or upload the documents into a city database later on
Generally holding meetings to obtain parental consent for evaluations within 10-15 business days, instead of the 44 calendar days on average that the CSE took previously
Holding classroom observations the same school year as the referral to special education for all cases where the parent consents to the observation by May 1
Not duplicating the same assessments that schools have already conducted to gauge the need for services
The original Complaint can be found here.
ABOUT SUCCESS ACADEMY CHARTER SCHOOLS
Founded in 2006, Success Academy Charter Schools are free public K-12 schools open to all children in the state through a random lottery. With 45 schools across Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens, Success Academy enrolls 17,000 students, primarily children of color from low-income households in disadvantaged neighborhoods: 74% receive free or reduced-price lunch, 94% are students of color, 16% have disabilities, and 8% are English language learners. Success Academy schools received more than 17,000 applications for about 4,000 open seats for the 2019-20 academic year.