Elite N.Y. high schools lacking special ed students

New York Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott ordered the city’s best performing schools to accept more students with disabilities, in a sharply worded email sent last month. Fewer than half of the city’s 103 screened high schools, those with special eligibility requirements, accepted as many kids with disabilities as regular neighborhood schools, according to the email, as reported by the New York Daily News. “Ensuring that incoming ninth graders with disabilities have the same access to screened high schools is just one way that we’re raising academic standards for all of our students,” Walcott said in the email. Advocates applauded the move by the chancellor, but acknowledged that the city has a long way to go. “Placing more accountability on schools to ensure they admit more students with special needs is a good thing,” said Jaye Bea Smalley, co-president of the Citywide Council on Special Education, in the Daily News article. “The devil is in the details.” An audit released January 24 by New York City Comptroller John Lui showed that the New York City school system failed to provide special education services in 2009-10 to as many as a quarter of its students referred for special education services; or more than 72,000 of an estimated 286,000 students referred for speech, occupational and physical therapy, vision and hearing services.