of Education’s Role in Special Education
Pola Rosen, Ed.D.
interview with Frances Goldstein, the Chief Executive of the Office
of School Programs and Support Services, yielded some interesting
facts about special education in New York City: there are about
140,000 children receiving special education services. Among the
problems facing special education today are over–referral and
over–classification of youngsters. To combat these problems, there
is a new continuum of services—from the least restrictive to the
most—along with efforts to implement the “least restrictive requirement”
mandated by the government.
According to Ms. Goldstein, the direction we are heading toward
is to provide inclusion and to provide general education wherever
possible with appropriate support services. The trend is away
from labeling children.
What is the difference between mainstreaming and inclusion, parents
might ask. Ms. Goldstein explained that inclusion combines general
and special education instruction throughout the day. Mainstreaming
only refers to those few non-academic subjects in which special
education students can have contact with regular students, for
example, in lunch or music. The remainder of the day is spent
in special education classes.
Changes in educational programming must be done with parental
The Committee on Special Education (CSE) is located in each school
district, usually in the superintendent’s office for elementary
students while for high school students, a CSE is located in each
high school. These Committees evaluate and make recommendations
for placement. If a parent is dissatisfied, he/she has a right
to have a hearing administered by an impartial hearing officer
(trained by the state) who reports findings to the Board of Education
as well as the family. If the family is dissatisfied with the
hearing, recourse to the courts is available.
If parents can show unequivocally that the local public education
is not the most appropriate one for their child, they can choose
a private school and the tuition (often $25,000 per year) is paid
by the NYC Board of Education to the private school.#
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