Many preschoolers with disabilities miss out on school services

On Behalf of | Jul 18, 2023 | Education Law |

In New York City, parents who have a child with disabilities rely on their schools to give them the services they need. There are requirements in place that must be adhered to. However, there are often complaints that schools do not live up to those expectations.

While this is a problem for all students regardless of their age and development, it can be particularly troubling for preschoolers. A recent report shows that schools failed a significant number of preschoolers with disabilities. These kids are three and four-years-old. Parents should be aware of this and other potential challenges that could negatively affect their kids and act accordingly.

Report says around almost 37% of preschoolers with disabilities were impacted

Advocates for Children New York conducted an analysis of the numbers for children with disabilities getting the services they are entitled to. It used the 2021-22 data and compared it to the previous year. For the latest numbers, nearly 10,000 students were not given the services they needed. This was up from around 7,800 in 2020-21.

The services they did not get varied from speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy. The biggest gap in children who needed these services and did not get it was for language issues. The report shows that 69% of children in need of instruction in English got their services. Children who required other languages came in at just over 53%. There were relatively minor differences when it came to race and socioeconomics.

There is concern that the numbers are not accurate due to underreporting based on how the city defines when children are getting full services. One session for all their needs is categorized as them being fully served when that is unlikely to be sufficient. Evaluations, a lack of qualified teachers and overcrowding are also problems that city officials – including the Mayor – are striving to address.

Parents should have help in making sure schools are following the law

Complaints about schools in New York City and Long Island are unfortunately common. There is frequently a litany of excuses as to why these schools are failing to properly educate and care for children as they are legally required to do. Parents need to be aware of what is happening and what options are available to them.

Preschoolers are in their formative years. Those with disabilities need specialized education and services to ensure they have a good chance to learn and progress. When schools are not doing what they are expected to do, having guidance with navigating education law is imperative to try and hold schools accountable.