Weekly Round-up November 10th, 2014

Special Education Class Action Lawsuit:


  • On Wednesday, a class action lawsuit was filed against the NYC Department of Education claiming that the Department has failed to comply with state and federal laws that require special education students to receive transitional and vocational services and training to help them succeed after high school.
  • Transitional services are intended to help improve the academic and practical skills of students with disabilities to allow them to transition from secondary school to higher education, employment, or independent living.
  • One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is a 16-year-old high school student in Brooklyn. He claims that he did not receive the proper vocational assessments and training to prepare him for life after high school graduation. His parents received the Individualized Education Program (IEP) and saw that there was no course of action for their son for after graduation.
  • The Department of Education is working with the families of the lawsuit to make sure that the students get all of the tools and resources they need. In a statement, the Department of Education said that it is “committed to providing the services our students need to thrive in and out of the classroom.”
  • To read the complaint, click here. To see New York State Education Department transition requirements and guidelines, click here.


Domestic Violence On the Rise in NYCHA Buildings:


  • Last month the City Council’s Public Housing Committee released a report stating that the number of domestic violence incidents in the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments have doubled since 2009. This spike in domestic violence crime has also contributed to the 31% spike in overall NYCHA crime.
  • Some Council members are calling on a re-evaluation of the protocol of screening domestic violence victims for public housing. It is currently difficult for domestic violence victims to achieve “N1” priority – the second highest priority category. For a victim to qualify for priority status based on one incident, the victim must show the abuser was charged with a “serious felony,” which currently includes first or second degree assault, rape in the first degree, and other mostly first or second degree offenses. For other offenses, two or more incidents are needed. NYCHA indicated it is planning to expand the list of offenses that are considered when there is one incident.
  • The waiting lists are long, and after Mayor De Blasio’s administration changed the city’s policy allowing homeless families to be given higher priority, it has been increasingly difficult for domestic violence victims to get NYCHA housing.
  • The Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence will release a new program aimed specifically at targeting domestic violence crime in NYCHA developments. The Domestic Violence Response Team will focus on 15 housing complexes that account for 20% of NYCHA violent crime.


Elementary School Absenteeism On the Rise:

  • There are 180 required school days and approximately 424,000 elementary school students in New York City.
  • A recent report by the Center for New York City Affairs found that more than 87,000 city elementary school kids missed 10 percent or more of the required school days during the 2012-2013 academic year.
  • The report also found that chronic absenteeism is linked to various issues, such as: student’s academic achievement, homelessness, and poverty.
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio and School Chancellor Carmen Fariña are aware of the issue of chronic absenteeism and are planning to create different programs to increase school attendance.
  • For more on this, click here. (Daily News)


Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch:

  • President Barack Obama nominated Loretta Lynch for attorney general. She would be the first black woman to take on this role.
  • Loretta Lynch was a federal prosecutor in New York, and she has experience prosecuting: corruption, terrorism, and gang cases.
  • Loretta Lynch was one of the prosecutors on the Abner Louima case. She prosecuted the officers who took part in, or were trying to cover up the beating and sodomy of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima in a precinct bathroom. The case led to racial tensions and street protests. The Louima case continues to stand out amongst the many other federal civil rights cases of the past twenty years.
  • In the wake of recent civil rights cases, such as the shooting death of Michael Brown by Ferguson police, which have similarly affected the nation, Lynch’s nomination may help to keep a strong focus on civil rights.
  • Lynch would succeed attorney general Eric Holder, who will leave behind an investigation regarding the practices of the Ferguson Police Department. She will also inherit investigations that were initiated by the Justice Department over the last five years, which involve twenty other troubled police departments.
  • Loretta Lynch has a rich history in civil rights. President Obama stated that as a child, Loretta Lynch would go to church with her father while students organized anti-segregation boycotts. The president also stated that her grandfather was a sharecropper in the 1930’s and he dedicated his time to helping others with legal issues who had minimal options under the Jim Crow laws.
  • For more on this, click here. (Huffington Post)