It has been been an ongoing source of frustration to principals, teachers, parents and special needs students. Until now, New York City policy demanded that special education service providers follow the public school calendar. This meant that on days that yeshivos were open but public schools were closed, therapists, health paraprofessionals and resource room teachers could not provide services, because they would not have been reimbursed for their work.
Thanks to the advocacy of Project LEARN, the division of Agudath Israel of America that deals with special education issues, the city’s policy has been changed to accommodate the needs of the nonpublic school community. Provided that the total number of hours that are billed per student does not exceed the maximum number allocated for the school year, yeshivos and other non-public schools may offer services any day that their school is in session, including legal holidays. As long as yeshivos adhere to a 180 day school calendar, that calendar year may begin as early as September 1 and end any time up to June 30.
“The new policy means that schools that elect to start before Labor Day can start services immediately, and that students with special needs won’t have their schedules disrupted because of public school vacations or holidays,” says Mrs. Leah Steinberg, Director of Project LEARN, “Structure and continuity are vital to the success of any special needs program, and this will help maintain both.”
Project LEARN, a division of Agudath Israel of America, advocates on behalf of special needs students in yeshivos and nonpublic schools, serves as a liaison between the schools and government agencies, and offers schools and parents assistance in obtaining appropriate placement and services for their students.