City Council members to push city to release more special-ed stats

City Council members want the Department of Education to release more information about which students are receiving the special-education services they require — and which are not.

The City Council education committee is set to take up legislation that would require the city to release an annual report with details about how long students wait to be evaluated, and then receive, special services. The report would include the percentage of students “in full compliance” with their individualized learning plans and a breakdown of those statistics by students’ race, gender, English language learner status, and free or reduced-price lunch status.

Chalkbeat reported last week that the delivery of one type of special-education services varied widely by where students live. For students who live in Jamaica, Queens, 19 percent of those required services — including physical therapy and intensive counseling — were not being provided in June of last year. In parts of the South Bronx where the average median household income is $22,000, 10 percent of those services went unprovided. Just 1.5 percent of services went unprovided in the city’s five wealthiest ZIP codes.

Education committee chair Daniel Dromm said Tuesday that Council members wanted to know more about whether students are getting services and whether they were being evaluated in a timely manner. “There are many questions around that,” Dromm said.

The legislation would also require the release of information relevant to the city’s special-education reform effort, which has encouraged schools not to isolate students with special needs. The bill would require the city to report how many students receive special-education services in the classroom 100 percent of the time, a significant portion of their time, or a small portion of their time.

Advocates for Children of New York Executive Director Kim Sweet said her organization would lend its support to the bill, which she said could spur improvements to services for city students, when it is discussed next week.

“We will be testifying in support of the effort to make public the delays in service provision and to hold the DOE accountable for those delays,” Sweet said.

The new legislation is sponsored by Dromm, Public Advocate Letitia James, and eight other City Council members. A Department of Education spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Patrick Wall contributed reporting.