Weekly Round-up: December 6th, 2013


~The newly appointed NYPD Commissioner, William Bratton, will now be responsible for school safety in New York City. This February he attended a School Safety Symposium in Purchase, NY that was held in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.  The Symposium focused on bringing school officials and law enforcement together in order to discuss working together and integrating mental health services as a way to prevent school related violence. Bratton, a speaker at the symposium, promoted the idea of inter-agency collaboration in order to prevent school shootings. (CBS New York)

~ One of the major issues that mayor-elect Bill de Blasio will face in the upcoming months is contract negotiation with the New York City teachers’ union, The United Federation for Teachers.  The teachers’ contract ran out in 2009 and has yet to be renewed due to a contract dispute.  The following article outlines the larger points of contention. (Education Week)


~Cesar Vargas completed law school and passed his bar examination.  Upon the completion of his bar exam, the  Committee responsible for evaluating his character and fitness rated him “stellar.”  After this rating, the Committee recommended that Vargas not be admitted to the State Bar due to the fact that he is an unauthorized immigrant. Vargas came to the United States from Mexico at age 5. He is challenging the Committee’s decision.  You can read about the story here.  (NY Times)

Juvenile Rights

~ In In Re Edwin S. the Family Court (Queens County) addressed the use of simplified Miranda Warnings for juveniles.… <Read More>

Weekly Round-up: November 8th, 2013


Welcome to the first edition of our Weekly Round-Up! Every Friday JustFamilies.org will be bringing New York’s Family Law Community articles on recent family law-related news. Enjoy!


~For a discussion of possible candidates that meet Mayor-Elect Bill De Blasio’s description for the Chancellor of the NYC Department of Education click here. (Capital New York)

~Here is an article by Diane Ravitch discussing Mayor-elect De Blasio and the effect of his election on education in New York City. (Huffington Post)


~New York City launched the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project– the nation’s first government funded legal representation program for detained indigent immigrants facing deportation. Full story here. (Latin Times)

LGBT Rights

~The U.S. Senate voted to approve a ban on workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, but it is unlikely the House of Representatives will even vote on it. Full story here. (CBS New York)

Mental Health

~The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a final parity regulation which requires covered insurers to provide coverage for mental health and addiction services comparable to that for medical or surgical benefits.  Click here for the official announcement.  The regulation can be found here. (U.S. Department of Human Health and Services)… <Read More>

Public Boarding School: The Seed School and the Model it Created

As a person who attended public schools from K-12, I only knew of boarding schools as being expensive alternatives to private schools. In my suburban community outside of Los Angeles, I only heard of children “being sent away” to boarding schools because they were “problem children.”  However, I never really understood the positive impact a boarding school could have on students and the community the school creates. Until watching the movie Waiting for Superman, the concept of a public boarding school never once crossed my mind. As the movie shows, the Seed School of Washington D.C. is a public charter school serving the community and surrounding neighborhoods.

Similar to other charter schools, the Seed School operates on a lottery system when space permits. However, the Seed School is unique- it is a boarding school, free of cost to those who attend and it is located within D.C., close to the students’ friends and families.  Students are permitted to go home on the weekends to spend time with their family, and during the week every student is involved in various extracirricular activities and experiences that they would never have access to without the Seed School.

As a supporter of many charter schools across the country and especially in New York City, I truly believe that New York City would benefit from creating a charter school that is a boarding school and is within the five boroughs of NYC. Having the boarding school within the City’s limits allows for students to remain part of their communities while being safeguarded from the streets of their communities.… <Read More>

Free School Lunch Increase Reflects Bad Economy!

According to a recent New York Times article titled, ” Lines Grow for Free School Meals Thanks to Economy,” by Sam Dillion there is a breathtaking increase in the number of students now enrolling in the free meals program.

Last Year, the Department of Agriculture, the department responsible for administering the meals programs throughout the nation’s public schools, cited a 17 percent increase in students receiving subsidized lunch. In 2010 there were 21 million students enrolled in the program. This increased from 18 million enrolled in the program during the 2006-2007 academic school year.

To qualify for free lunch, a family must be in the 130 percent of poverty level bracket. This equates to a family household income of $29,055 for a family of 4 members. To receive reduced lunch the family income must not surpass $41,348 for a household of 4 members. If the family’s income meets this standard then the reduce rate is 40 cents for the meal daily.

Although, most experts believe that most of the increase enrollment in the meals program is directly related to increase poverty being experienced by families across the nation, the experts also say it is not the only factor to consider.

In 2004 congress passed what is known as the direct certificate requirement. This requires schools districts to essentially match the students receiving food stamps with their enrollment records and automatically enroll these students in the meals program. It is noted that more and more school districts are following the congressional requirement.… <Read More>

Lunch at 10 A.M. due to Overcrowded Classrooms


overcrowded classroom

Bagels, eggs, pancakes and orange juice seems to be the correct food to eat at 10 A.M. It’s breakfast time right? Not so much the case at Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers, in Lower Manhattan. At 10 A.M it is the beginning of the lunch time periods.

Due to overcrowding and the fiscal budget crisis students all around New York City are experiencing earlier lunch times, tighter classroom seating arrangements, less personalized instruction, and higher building student to teacher ratios.

According to the United Federation of Teachers’ survey  released on Thursday, September 22, 2011, New York City Public School classrooms are overcrowded. Classroom size is at its highest in 10 years. The survey notes that nearly 7,000 classrooms are over their contractual limits. The contractual limit for Kindergarten classroom is 25 students; for grades one to six the limit is 32; for middle schools it is 33; and for high schools it is 34.The overcrowding in New York City Public School is said to stem from attrition, budget cuts and increased enrollment.

All across the New York City district the education system is feeling the increase. Most notable are High Schools in Queens. About 2,600 classrooms are overcrowded, with more than 34 students in each room. Some schools have imposed class schedules based on shifts to deal with lack of teachers and limited classroom space.

The teachers at Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers, use the method of shifting a handful of students into Advanced Placement classes, whether or not they wanted to take them, to deal with overcrowding classrooms.… <Read More>