As Part of Plan to Increase Parental Engagement in Special Needs Children’s Education Quinn Calls for Guidebook of Special Education Schools and Programs

Today, Christine Quinn was joined by public school parents of special education students on the steps of City Hall to outline her plan to increase parent engagement in their children’s education as a means of improving academic performance. To accomplish this, Quinn laid out two major changes she would make as mayor: (1) create a guide describing the special education programs in the city so that parents can make informed decisions about where to send their children when school choice is an option, and (2) provide parents of special needs children access to the online database that tracks their children’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) progress. Quinn noted that the more information provided to parents about their children’s education, the more likely the parents are to engage and the more likely their children are to succeed academically. Quinn was joined today by Louise Bogue from Brooklyn and Stacey Calcano from Inwood, parents who have children in special education and non-special education programs throughout the city to discuss the benefits of moving forward with this plan.

“Special education requirements are among the most complex to address and parents in these families need the most support to engage with their child’s learning,” Quinn stated. “That’s why my plan will provide more information to parents of special needs children to ensure they are equipped with the right tools to make important decisions about their children’s future.”

Specifically, Quinn’s plan will:

Create a Guide Book for City’s Special Needs Schools and Programs Similar to Guide Books for Middle and High Schools

Currently, parents of typically developing students are provided with a nearly 500 page directory of New York City’s public middle and high schools to help them determine which school their child should apply to. This guidebook reveals information to parents such as class size, courses offered, athletic and extra-curricular activities. However, no such guidebook or directory exists for the city’s 55 special needs schools and more than 300 special needs programs. That means parents are forced to play a guessing game each year on where to send their child. Under Quinn’s plan, she would create a guidebook for these special education schools and programs, clearly indicating the range of services each offers to help parents make informed decisions about where to send their child. Currently, the only way to find out information about a special needs elementary school is for parents to research each school individually, often requiring in-person visits. Under Quinn’s plan, this information would be made available both in print and online where school choice is an option.

Grant Parents of Special Needs Children Access to Online Database

Parents of public school students are able to access their child’s grades and attendance at the click of a button. Parents of children with special needs, however, are unable to access key information related to their child’s academic progress such as if they are meeting the benchmarks on their IEPs. Quinn’s plan will grant access to this database and empower these parents with information to hold schools, teachers and their own child accountable. This information is crucial in determining whether or not a child is progressing in school and is currently not typically available unless requested by the parent or until a parent-teacher conference.

Today’s announcement follows other education proposals Quinn has unveiled this week including her comprehensive plan to make New York City the literacy capital of the world and to reduce the amount of time students spend preparing and taking standardized tests.