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March 5, 2019
I’ve spent thousands of hours with SESIS. Replacing it isn’t all our students with disabilities need.
Truly improving special education will require a shift in mentality (away from compliance) and in-school practices (toward collaboration), not just new software.
February 25, 2019
Fear and loathing: New Yorkers bid farewell to the special ed data system educators love to hate
SESIS won’t disappear from local schools for at least a year, but New Yorkers are already bidding the special education data system farewell. The state’s…
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February 22, 2019
Sayonara, SESIS: New York City to scrap its beleaguered special education data system
Special education teachers often spent hours navigating a maze of drop-down menus only to experience error messages that erased their answers.
bills bills bills
February 21, 2019
Are students with disabilities getting what they need? Proposed laws would require NYC to reveal more details
The legislation would force the education department to release new details about whether students are receiving all of the services listed on their learning plans.
November 2, 2018
In New York City schools, 40,000 students aren’t getting required special education services, report finds
NYC has roughly 224,000 students with special needs — a population larger than Houston’s entire public school system.
November 1, 2017
More students with disabilities got required services last year, but large gaps remain
Last school year, 73 percent of students with disabilities received their mandated services — up from 59 percent the previous year.
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May 9, 2017
New York City’s special ed tracking system malfunctioned more than 800,000 times per day, but changes are underway
Officials promised to "implement these changes as quickly as possible.”
time for an upgrade
November 18, 2016
New York City reveals new plans to upgrade its dysfunctional special education data system
How significant those upgrades will be remains to be seen.
August 12, 2016
Judge OKs a formal inquiry into the city’s notoriously unreliable special education tracking system
The city could be forced to answer questions as part of a legal proceeding that hasn't occurred since 1900.
March 16, 2016
After 41 SESIS errors over two hours, a special-ed teacher joins a push for reform
A forum this week highlighted special-education challenges, including problems with the $130 million data-tracking system, SESIS.
SESIS UNDER FIRE
February 1, 2016
James sues city for not properly tracking services for students with disabilities
Letitia James filed a lawsuit against the city alleging its special-education data system prevented students from receiving services and lost the city millions.
November 21, 2013
After city pays millions in SESIS overtime, complications remain
Special education teachers say it's a common feeling: the students are gone for the day, and it's time for the real work to begin. But if they need to record something on a student's Individualized Education Program, it's probably too late. Early efforts to curb overtime payments have now become policy, as the Department of Education reminds principals to keep staff members out of SESIS—the online system that tracks special education students—after the school day ends unless the principal has committed to pay for that time. The reminders were spurred by arbitration that ultimately cost the city $41 million in belated overtime to teachers and staff whose after-hours work violated union contracts. For months, some principals have been looking for ways to give teachers more time during the day to work with the notoriously glitchy system (made more frustrating by slow school Internet speeds). But teachers and principals say that serious problems remain, as students' information is now updated more slowly, data entry takes time away from student interaction, and some teachers continue to work without pay. "Is that the reality? Of course it's the reality," said Carmen Alvarez, the UFT's vice president for special education, of the continuing issues. "Do I like it? No. Did we tell it to the DOE three years ago in writing? Yes."
July 23, 2013
Special education chief steers talk away from SESIS issues
On Monday, Comptroller John Liu released an audit that turned the public's attention to the city's special education data system, which has received significant criticism in the past. Last week, we spoke to Corinne Rello-Anselmi, the deputy chancellor of special education. I asked her about the most important initiatives in special education and she didn't mention the data system; rather, she talked about the bigger picture of special education in the city. Here are some of the most interesting takeaways from our conversation. How her personal experience led to a focus on the importance of inclusion in special education Rello-Anselmi was appointed deputy chancellor in April 2012 after Laura Rodriguez, the first-ever deputy chancellor for special education, stepped down. It was a critical moment for special education policy in New York City, with reforms to the system just months from rolling out in full. Rello-Anselmi joined central administration as a seasoned insider working in the field, having worked in city schools for 33 years. She began her teaching career at P.S. 108 in the Bronx as a self-contained special education teacher. Later, she served as principal of the school for ten years.
July 22, 2013
Liu eschews own audit to focus on Medicaid reimbursements
Liu at a press conference outside Tweed Courthouse, where he discussed Medicaid reimbursement for special education students. New York City Comptroller John Liu’s audit into the city’s embattled special education data system, released today, hammered home well-established issues, but found few new problems with the three-year-old initiative. Liu, who is running for mayor, instead used the occasion to highlight a challenge not mentioned in the audit — the city's ongoing struggle to get reimbursed for low income students with disabilities who are entitled to federal Medicaid dollars. Over the last two years, the city has collected just 25 percent, or $74 million, of the $284 million amount that the city had hoped to be reimbursed for, Liu said today at a press conference. Liu took the finding from a city budget report published this spring. But he said that responsibility for the losses lies with the city's data system, which his audit criticized. The data system, built to track 190,000 special education students with Individualized Education Plans, makes it "practically impossible" to file for reimbursements, Liu said, a claim that a city spokesman later disputed. Schools began using the Special Education Student Information System (SESIS) in 2011 to keep better track of students with disabilities. School staff working with special education students are required to log information about all stages of their IEPs, including details about initial assessments, meetings with parents, services provided, and changes made to the plan.
April 30, 2013
Overtime bill for staff using special ed system totals $38.5M
The city doled out $38.5 million in back pay to schools staff who were wrongly required to work overtime on a buggy special education data system, according to payment details released today by the education department. Nearly 30,000 therapists, special education teachers, paraprofessionals, guidance counselors, social workers and psychologists received the overtime payments this month after an independent arbitrator ruled in January that the Department of Education violated the United Federation of Teachers' contract. The first round of payments, on April 12, totaled $2.6 million for 1,700 occupational and physical therapists and the second and final payment — $35.9 million — went out to the rest of employees today. The total number of educators who qualified for overtime far exceeded the UFT's estimates, which hovered at around 10,000. The UFT filed the labor complaint in mid-2011, charging that staff should not have been required to work outside of their contractual school day.
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