Getting Kids on Track to School Success

June 2017


The NYS Education Department has released for public review and comment the draft Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan. This federal law replaces No Child Left Behind and emphasizes improving equity in education for all students and expanding school accountability and student success measures.

To learn more about ESSA in NYS, get an overview by visiting and reading the full plan and commenting at

“Comments can be submitted via email to sends e-mail) with “ESSA Comments from (sender/organization name)” in the subject line. Comments submitted via mail should be sent to the attention of Dr. Lisa Long, New York State Education Department, Office of Accountability, 4th Floor, 55 Hanson Place, Brooklyn, New York 11217. Comments will be accepted through June 16.”


May 2017

Graduation Requirements

High School graduation season is around the corner.

Graduation requirements often change, so make sure that you are on track by checking out the HVSEPC Parent Brouchure and visiting and searching “2017 Graduation Requirements.”

Best wishes to all the Graduates!


April 2017

Seat Time!

You must be in class the required number of days to be able to receive credit for a course. You will lose credit even if you pass the class and may not be permitted to sit for the regents if you don’t have the right amount of seat time!


March 2017

It’s Annual Review Season!

If your child receives special education services, the Committee on Special Education (CSE) will review their Individualized Education Program (IEP) each year at a meeting called an Annual Review. It is important to attend this meeting because your child’s progress will be reviewed and a new IEP will be developed for the following school year. Do not be afraid to ask questions and share your input about your child.


January 2017

Homebound Instruction, Home and Hospital Instruction, Home Instruction/Home School:  Which is it?

Homebound Instruction is provided by the school district if the child is of compulsory school age, and is temporarily home due to a suspension, illness, or disability. For a child with an IEP the Committee on Special Education would make this decision and it is often referred to as Home and Hospital Instruction. In addition to these legal terms, Home Bound Instruction may also be called Home Instruction by school staff.

Home Instruction or Home School means the parent has chosen to teach their child at home. They are responsible to provide for their child’s education by following specific NY State regulations and guidelines. The parents must file a plan with their school district.
Read more:


November 2016

Parent Teacher Conference

School districts schedule several parent-teacher conferences throughout the year. Attending the parent-teacher conferences is a great way to help your child achieve success. Click here for tips on questions you should ask your child’s teacher.


Children who have experienced trauma may have difficulties learning and behaving in school. Click here to learn more about how it can affect a child’s performance in school.

According to the National Survey of Children’s Health, more than 50% of children have experienced some form of trauma before the age of 18. Examples of childhood trauma include neglect, verbal, physical and emotional abuse, domestic violence, divorce, mental illness of a parent and violence within the community. Exposure to traumatic events can impact a child’s performance in school. Many of these children have a hard time paying attention in class and acting appropriately toward their teachers and classmates. As a result, these children are 2 ½ times more likely to be held back a grade. They are also more likely to be suspended from school.

If you think your child is suffering from the effects of trauma and is having difficulties in school, it may be necessary to refer your child to the Committee on Special Education to be evaluated to determine whether s(he) would benefit from school services to help your child stay on track in school.


October 2016

Back to School Night is important!

This is your chance to meet your child’s teacher and get a general view of what to expect for this school year.  You should try to attend. Click here for tips on how what to expect and look for at BTS Night:


September 2016

Daily school attendance matters…

Missing just a few days of school per month can hurt a child’s math or reading skills or even their chance of graduating. School is a child’s first and most important job. Daily attendance at school helps kids learn, build self-discipline, and achieve their dreams.  Advocates, schools and families can work together to address the reasons a child is not going to school. Together, we can improve attendance. For more information, see or


August 2016

Did you get your IEP for 2016-2017?

School districts must ensure that a classified student with a disability has an IEP in place at the start of each school year and that a copy of the IEP is provided to the student’s parents.

All school personnel (i.e regular education teacher, special education teacher, related service provider) responsible for the implementation of the IEP must be provided with either a paper or electronic copy prior to the implementation of the IEP. Supplementary school personnel (teacher aide or teaching assistant) responsible for assisting in the implementation of the IEP should have the opportunity to review a copy prior to the implementation of a program and have ongoing access to a copy.


Is your child registered for school?

Public schools will re-open on September 6th. All children who turn 6 years old on or before December 1st must attend school from the first day. If you have recently moved to a new school district and your child is not yet registered call the school district or go to their website for registration information. More information on registration can be found here.


There is a new vaccine requirement for students entering 7th and 12th grades this September. Your child will need this vaccination to attend school. 

This school year students entering 7th and 12th grades must be vaccinated against meningococcal disease. If your child does not have this vaccination, they will not be permitted to attend school until you provide proof of vaccination to the school. If your child is entering 7th or 12th grades, you should contact your pediatrician as soon as possible to make sure your child gets this vaccination before the beginning of the new school year. Make sure you get a letter from your pediatrician stating that your child has been vaccinated to provide to the school.

Find more information about vaccine requirements here.

Find clinics offering vaccinations here.


July 2016

Did you know in NY State there are different types of diplomas and exiting credentials?

Check out the most recent requirements on the NY State Education Department’s website HERE. For further information contact your high school guidance counselor.


June 2016

Do you have child in elementary school who may not be promoted to the next grade?

Research shows leaving a student back in the same grade is not the appropriate intervention. Ensure your child is receiving the proper supports by speaking to the teacher and the principal. You may consider referring your child to the Committee on Special Education. If your child already receives Special Education services request a Committee on Special Education meeting.


January 2016

Does your child’s behavior in school interfere with his/her learning? What is an FBA and a BIP and should I request one?

You can request that the school conduct a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) to evaluate your child’s behaviors.  An FBA helps to determine how your child behaves in school and identify the cause as to why your child may be exhibiting problematic behaviors. Parental consent is required before it may be conducted.

The FBA must be based on many sources of information including direct observation of the child, information from the student, parents, teachers and other providers, as well as information from the student’s records. This information should be shared with you by the school.  Then the school will create a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) to help reduce the targeted behaviors that are getting in the way of your child’s academic progress.


More on Annual Reviews:

It is important to attend the Annual Review meeting.  It is a time to discuss your child’s progress and review the goals, accommodations, modifications or transitions with the CSE  for the next school year.  You can request to attend by phone.


December 2015:

What Does Effective Parental Advocacy Look Like?

YOU are an equal participant.  An equal participant needs to be:

          Knowledgeable: Know the process. Know the language.

          Informed: Get copies of all reports  and read them.  Communicate with teachers prior to formal  meetings.

          Prepared: All of the above, plus, have a list of questions, issues, and points for discussion.  You can choose to distribute copies at meetings.

          Follow Up: Afterwards, summarize in writing your meeting notes/understanding of agreements reached, or not, and you will have an excellent starting point for the next                                                       discussion.

For more information see Chapter 7 of our publication 101 Answers.


Annual Reviews are just around the corner.  Are you ready?

Parents are equal participants in developing, reviewing and revising their child’s IEP.  Use monthly or quarterly team meetings, reports cards and IEP Progress Reports to ensure IEP implementation and meaningful participation at the Annual Review.

For more information see page 72, #99 of our publication 101 Answers.


November 2015:

Parent-Teacher Conferences

School districts schedule several parent-teacher conferences throughout the year. Attending the parent-teacher conferences is a great way to help your child achieve success.

These conferences provide an opportunity for you to talk with your child’s teacher about what your child is learning and how you can support your child’s learning at home. Ask questions, such as:  What is my child expected to learn at this grade level, based on the Common Core? What does my child do well? What areas are difficult for my child?


Child Find

The federal special education law known as IDEA includes a Child Find mandate.  The Child Find mandate is signaled when a child exhibits a struggle academically, physically, socially, or behaviorally on a continuous basis.  The Child Find mandate requires every school district to identify, locate and evaluate all children with disabilities, as well as those suspected of having a disability, who may need special education services.  It includes children who are home schooled, homeless, wards of the state or attending a private or parochial school.


Report Cards and Progress Reports

Schools generally send out report cards quarterly.   It is important to read report cards because they contain important information about your child’s grades, attendance, and conduct. If your child receives special education services, (s)he will also receive  a Progress Report.  Progress Reports contain information on how your child is progressing towards his/her annual IEP goals.  The IEP will identify how often you will receive the Progress reports.  They are also important to read.



October 2015:

Back to School Night

This is your chance to meet the teacher and get a general view of what to expect for this school year.  Try to attend.


September 2015:

School Attendance Matters!

Students who miss 10% or more of schools days or about a month of school jeopardize their academic success. Everyone should support the habit of good school attendance. For more information or

Vaccinations – New State Regulations

Students must be vaccinated (or be in the process of getting vaccinated) against measles, mumps and rubella, diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis to attend class at the start of the new school year.  Click here for more information


July 2015:

Special Education Upon Entry to School

When any parent or person in parental relations enrolls or enters their child in a public school, the School District is now required to notify them of their rights to have their child referred to and evaluated by the Committee on Special Education, to determine whether their child is eligible to receive special education services or programs. The District may refer parents to “A Parents’ Guide to Special Education” on the New York State Education Departments’ website as long as the notification includes the name and contact information of the District’s Committee of Special Education or person who is responsible for processing referrals to the Committee in the District.

May 2015:

Manifestation Determination Review (MDR)

When a student with a disability is suspended or has been removed from school for a total of more than 10 days, during the school year, the MDR team must have a meeting including the parents to determine whether the behavior leading to the suspension was directly caused by the disability or by the school’s failure to implement the student’s IEP. If manifestation is found, the student may be allowed to return to school or the CSE must review the student’s placement and review or develop a behavior intervention plan.

For more information see question 84 of our publication 101 Answers.

March 2015:

Progress Reports

An Individualized Educational Program (IEP) must document when parents will receive reports on the progress their child is making toward reaching the annual goals stated in the IEP.

For more information see question 60 our publication 101 Answers.

February 2015:

There is a difference between an Annual Review and a Program Review

An Annual Review must be held once a year to develop next year’s IEP. A Program Review may be requested at any time to review the current program.

For more information see our publication 101 Answers Questions 58, 98, and 99.

September 2014:

Encourage Regular School Attendance

Missing just 2-3 days each month can translate into serious reading problems for elementary students and failing courses for older students. Chronic absence puts kids at greater risk of becoming a dropout.


1. Make school your child’s top priority. Tell your children that you expect them to attend school every day. Then back that up! Let them know that the only reason to miss school is a serious illness. Don’t allow your child to stay home to catch up on homework, help with babysitting, for a mental health day, for a cold, or for a family vacation. Schedule checkups outside of school hours.

2. Attendance affects school success. Studies show many children who miss too many days in kindergarten and first grade can struggle academically in later years. They often have trouble mastering reading by the end of third grade. By middle and high school, chronic absence is a leading warning sign that a student will drop out.

3. Good attendance starts the night before:
• Children under 12 years old need about 9 to 11 hours of sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Children who are 12 and over need roughly 8 ½ to 9 ½ hours of sleep. When the lights go out, so too should the cell phones, videos games and computers.
• Set positive evening routines that allow time for your child to finish homework. Your child will feel better about going to school if he or she is well prepared.

4. Your district’s Code of Conduct gives information about how to report an absence when your child is ill. Make sure that you follow your district’s requirements. On a home calendar, keep track of your child’s absences and the reason for the absence.

5. Help your child get involved in the school community. Help them learn about clubs, school activities, volunteer opportunities, enrichment programs and community youth groups. Your school guidance counselor or PTA can help you learn about these opportunities at school. To find out about opportunities in your community, call 211, the link to community services provided by United Way.

6. If your child is reluctant to attend school, skips school or cuts classes, find out why. Talk to your child. Try to discover the underlying problem. If your child is in elementary school, make an appointment to talk to your child’s teacher. If your child is in middle or high school, make an appointment to meet with your child’s guidance counselor. They might be aware of problems – like bullying – that your child is facing in school. Also, you may want to share information about a problem and ask for help. If a child who is reluctant to attend school is also struggling with reading or math, talk to your child’s school about getting more academic help.

7. If your child has chronic health problems which cause attendance problems, contact your district’s Director of Pupil Personnel Services and ask about a 504 Plan. Your child might be eligible for an accommodation plan.

8. Don’t wait until the problem is huge. Work on problems right away.

July 2014:

New York State High School Diplomas and Credentials

The Special Education process continues throughout the summer months.  That means new referrals must be processed, evaluations must be done, and meetings must be held to determine eligibility and IEP’S must be created for the September school opening.

Upon a written referral by the parent the district shall respond in some way within ten days of receipt of the written referral document.  But the 60 day time limit  for completion of the process doesn’t begin to run until the parent has returned a signed consent to the district to begin the required evaluations.


February 2014:

New York State High School Diplomas and Credentials

New York State regular and special education students can earn several different types of high school diplomas, including a Regents diploma, Honors Regents diploma or Advanced Regents diploma. A local diploma is available to special education students and to regular education students who meet several conditions. To earn any of these diplomas students must complete 22 credits and achieve certain scores on the New York State Regents exams.

Student with disabilities who are taking Regents courses may earn the Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) credential as the only exiting credential or as a supplement to the Regents or local diploma effective July 1, 2013. Additional coursework and/ or work –based learning is required.

Students with severe disabilities are eligible for the Skills and Achievement Commencement Credential (SACC), which replaces the IEP diploma effective July 1, 2013. It is only available for students on New York State Alternate Assessments (NYSAA) meaning those students who are severely disabled and are not taking state tests.

For more details see


January 2014: Citizenship and Attending School

A student who is not a legal citizen of the United States can attend public school. If a student can show proof of residency within a school district, that public school is required to serve that student. Schools should not ask citizenship questions.