The New York State Assembly and Senate passed a bill (A8262/S6581) requiring the Commissioner of Education to issue a guidance memorandum to school districts about “dyslexia, dyscalculia or dysgraphia” and “inform them of the unique educational needs” of students with these disabilities. The guidance will inform New York’s public school districts that they can include these terms and recognize these disabilities in IEPs.
The net effect of this bill will be to force New York’s public school districts to acknowledge language based learning disabilities. If they don’t, the parent can ask for compensatory education and/or private school tuition reimbursement in a due process proceeding. The guidance will give parents in New York State support if their public school districts denies the existence of language based learning disabilities (that happens) or if the public school district fails to put supports to provide the kind of instruction that a child with language-based learning disabilities needs.
This legislation does not guarantee that public schools in New York state will suddenly be able to accommodate a child with a language based learning disability. Any teaching methodologies delivered to students with language based learning disabilities must be delivered “with fidelity.” Children may end up spending significant time being pulled from instruction for remediation. the pace of general education classes may remain too fast for the child with a language based learning disability to keep up, causing anxiety, which is no small thing. Parents still need to keep records and constantly communicate with the school district about struggles the child continues to experience, like organization or anxiety from being overwhelmed. And, as always, make sure that you communicate with your child’s teachers and the public school district in writing.
This legislation has been long awaited and was championed by Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, who represented Dr. Marilyn J. Bartlett in her fight for accommodations from the New York State Board of Bar Examiners, which was won in 1998.