In the States: Addressing Students with Disabilities Services and Educator Shortage
The new “In the States” feature by Kaitlyn Brennan is a weekly update to keep members informed on state-level activities impacting the education and educator preparation community.
Office of Civil Rights Comes to Agreement with Fairfax County Public Schools (VA) Over Students with Disabilities Receiving Services
On Wednesday, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) announced they have come to an agreement with Fairfax County Public Schools after the district failed to provide thousands of students with disabilities with the services required under law during the pandemic. “I am relieved that the more than 25,000 students with disabilities in Fairfax County will now receive services federal law promises to them, even during a pandemic, to ensure their equal access to education,” Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon said in a statement.
The OCR investigation found that during the pandemic, Fairfax County Public Schools, the largest school district in Virginia, reduced its special education instruction and “inaccurately informed staff that the school division was not required to provide compensatory education to students with disabilities who did not receive a [free appropriate public education] during the COVID-19 pandemic because the school division was not at fault.”
New York State to Address Shortage of Educators and Increasing Retirees
As school districts across New York state begin to see the impact of the declining enrollment in teacher preparation programs on their hiring pool, another problem has risen; retirements. The number of teachers retiring in New York state rose 7.2 percent between 2018 and 2022; an increase of nearly 11,500 retirees over the five-year span. An additional thirty-four percent of New York State United Teachers Union will be eligible to retire in the next five years. In order to address the need, New York Governor Kathy Hochul in October announced the development of the Empire State Teacher Residency Program through the New York State Department of Labor.
This program will provide matching funding for local public school districts and/or Boards of Cooperative Educational Services to create two-year residency opportunities for graduate-level K-12 teacher candidates. The program will provide $30 million in funding to subsidize master’s degree or teaching certification programs for qualified residency program candidates. In a statement, Governor Hochul said: “With the tremendous responsibility of inspiring and shaping the minds of younger generations, New York’s teachers deserve to be set up for success…This investment will ensure new teachers have the mentorship and support to adapt to a challenging and ever-changing field. New Yorkers deserve the best education, and our teachers are essential in providing that.”