New York City, NY

New Legislation Aims to Better Aid Students with Disabilities

J.M. Lesinski

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A shot of downtown Buffalo, New York.Photo by J.M. Lesinski

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul recently endorsed a legislative package with the goal of increasing support for students with disabilities, families of the disabled, and social services providers. Included in the legislation was bill S.2911/A.1953, which officially mandates that the Autism Spectrum Disorders Advisory Board give a report on autism detection, education, and mapping in New York state.

"This historic investment in schools serving students with disabilities, along with four bills I am signing into law, will make a huge difference in the lives of students, families and schools in every corner of New York," Hochul stated of the legislative package. "Throughout my time in office, I've made it a priority to listen to the disability community and provide the resources and support they need to thrive. People with disabilities have my commitment: as your governor, I'll always stand by your side and fight for you."

Also included in the legislation are bills S.1662-B/A.3523-A, which makes the issuance of behavior analyst licenses in New York more uniform with other states and no longer exclusive to autism and autism spectrum disabilities, and S.5560-A/A.5339, which delivers more funding to early intervention education for toddlers with disabilities.

"While every other state permits its applied behavior analysts to broadly practice their skills, New York has long pigeonholed these professionals, keeping children and individuals with disabilities from benefiting from this impactful therapy,” remarked New York State Senator James Skoufis of the legislation. “For those struggling in the face of various mental health or developmental diagnoses, this legislation is a game-changer. I am grateful to the many ABAs, families, and colleagues who worked tirelessly to get this bill across the finish line, including Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Majority Leader Peoples-Stokes, and Senator Mannion. Finally, we owe a debt of gratitude to Governor Hochul for supporting this important legislation and her commitment to children with disabilities."

Perhaps the most waited-for bill to pass, S.6682/A.7614, immediately appoints an Impartial Hearing Officer (IHO) to address due process complaints for students with disabilities in a timely manner. Currently in New York City, several thousand cases have been reported backlogged in this area.

"New York City has utterly failed thousands of special needs school kids who have been shortchanged educational services and whose families have been run through outrageous bureaucratic and financial gauntlets,” New York State Senator John C. Liu said of the legislation. “The NYC Department of Education has for years repeatedly reneged on their promises to improve their processes as agreed to with legislative leaders, which ultimately necessitated this legislation. A huge thank you to Governor Hochul for signing this bill into law and truly improving the education for children who have for too long languished in limbo at the hands of the NYCDOE."

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Professional journalist for over five years, covering topics all up and down both coasts of the United States, including arts, music, food, politics, and culture. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Fredonia with minors in Psychology and Creative Writing, as well as an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from California State University, Fresno.

Buffalo, NY
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