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Stories tagged: special education

Assistive technology is a needed tool in the city’s resource-starved schools


Maura McInerney

on Mar 27, 2015 12:01 PM

Imagine having no speech or hearing, only limited sight and no way of communicating with those around you. This was the isolated world of one of the Education Law Center’s clients, 9-year-old Billy (not his real name).

Billy is a child with multiple disabilities, including cerebral palsy, physical impairments, and an intellectual disability. His school days were long and lonely. Teachers and classmates did not understand or interact with him, and he could not communicate even his most basic needs.

Reading development: Two roads


Richard Selznick

on Feb 10, 2015 01:47 PM

Possibly nothing is more challenging to a child than to struggle in reading. Starting in early kindergarten, there are differences between the kids on the “smooth road” (those who start learning to read without difficulty) compared to those on the “rougher road” (those who show signs of early struggling).

Children on the smoother road start to learn their letters in preschool and make progress in kindergarten with letters, sounds and sight words (words that appear with high frequency in the text). They start to read easy Dr. Seuss books and receive lots of recognition from parents and teachers.

District promises to get tough with new Renaissance charter operators

By by Benjamin Herold for NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner on Apr 2, 2013 06:24 PM

The Philadelphia School District is vowing to take a hard line on two issues that have caused confusion when charter operators take over traditional public schools: special education and facilities costs.

Even as the District tries to convert three more of its schools into charters, officials and parents alike are wading through confusion over “exceptions” that past administrations granted to outside managers in previous years of the District’s Renaissance school turnaround initiative.

Parents can take these steps to prevent and deal with bullying

By by Sonja Kerr on Mar 26, 2013 11:17 AM

In 2009, three researchers – Wall, Wheaton and Zuver – reviewed all U.S. studies done on bullying and developmental disabilities. The results were consistent and staggering. 

All 10 studies found that children with disabilities were two to three times more likely to be victims of bullying than their non-disabled peers. Additionally, research showed that the bullying experienced by these students was more severe and most often directly related to the child’s disability. 

District says services will follow students, but parents must be proactive to make sure

By by Sonja Kerr on Jan 31, 2013 02:27 PM

The School District of Philadelphia has proposed closing 37 schools in June and relocating seven others. The announcement has sparked heated debate and criticism by parents, students, and community members. 

The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia has concerns that school closures could present serious consequences for students with disabilities and English language learners. 

Special ed focus at Monday SRC meeting

By Paul Socolar on Oct 15, 2012 05:41 PM

[Updated, 9 p.m.] The School Reform Commission devoted its monthly strategy meeting Monday from 6-8 pm  to the topic of special education. The agenda included both District officials and special education advocates, with a staff presentation on the state of special education in the District.

‘Portfolio districts’ promise responsiveness to student needs – but is there accountability?

By by Judith Gran on Oct 3, 2012 09:39 AM

Philadelphia’s current restructuring plan is based on the “portfolio school district” model, where there is an array of public, charter, and other schools operated by independent organizations. Parents have choices among a “menu” of schools, including schools that are not operated by the District. District administra­tion manages the portfolio of schools based on perfor­mance, closing poor-performing schools, expanding capacity in those that are doing better, and opening new ones designed to meet community needs.

Report detailing Boston Consulting Group findings and recommendations released

By Dale Mezzacappa on Aug 2, 2012 07:35 AM

By Dale Mezzacappa and Benjamin Herold

The School District released a 119-page document on Thursday that summarized the analyses and recommendations of the Boston Consulting Group, an outside firm retained at private expense to help the District avert a financial meltdown by radically overhauling its business operations and delivery of education.  

The document details BCG’s work and thinking on hot-button topics ranging from charter expansion to labor negotiations.  It also includes the previously unreleased analyses behind controversial District proposals to close dozens of schools and reorganize those that are left into decentralized, independently managed “achievement networks.”

District, Mastery reach agreement on serving disabled students at Clymer Elementary

By Benjamin Herold on Jun 12, 2012 09:52 PM

Updated, 7:55 p.m.


by Benjamin Herold
for the Notebook and WHYY/NewsWorks

The School District of Philadelphia and its largest charter school turnaround operator have agreed on the outlines of a deal that will prevent the relocation of 12 severely disabled children from one of the city’s Renaissance charters.

The deal avoids a potentially traumatic move for students in two Multiple Disabilities Support (MDS) classrooms at Mastery Charter Clymer Elementary in North Philadelphia. It also allays, at least for now, the concerns of disabilities rights advocates that the District had established a precedent for exempting charters from their responsibility to educate some of the city’s most vulnerable – and expensive to serve – students.

“I think we came up with a really positive solution,” said Courtney Collins-Shapiro, deputy chief innovation officer at Mastery Charter Schools

“I think this is a good sign of the District and charters partnering.”

Listen to Benjamin Herold's report for NewsWorks Tonight

Disability-office counselor talks about finding services at college

By by Samantha Byles on May 16, 2012 11:18 AM

The transition from high school to college is difficult for any student. But for special needs students, who often depend on tailored instruction and targeted resources at the high school level, the move to higher education can seem even more daunting.

About a third of District graduates who attend college enroll at the Community College of Philadelphia. We posed some questions to Theresa Tsai, who has been a counselor at CCP's Center on Disability (COD) for 20 years, about the transition to college life for special education students.

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