Investigation Exposes How New York City Schools Treat Kids With Disabilities


A federal investigation into the accessibility of New York City public schools has turned up some alarming results.

The two-year investigation, which was not previously disclosed to the public, concluded that 83 percent of New York City’s public elementary schools are not “fully accessible” to children with disabilities, The New York Times reported.

It found that six school districts, which serve more than 50,000 elementary students, did not have a fully accessible school, in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The office of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, sent a 14-page letter to the Education Department on Monday with the investigation findings. The letter gives the city 30 days to provide a response and “an outline and timeline of corrective actions that will remedy this unacceptable state of affairs.”

“Nowhere is it more important to tear down the barriers to equal access than with respect to the education of our children,” the letter reads. “But today, in New York City, 25 years after passage of the A.D.A., children with physical disabilities still do not have equal access to this most fundamental of rights.”

It went on to list the violations and describe the effects they have on families, teachers and students with disabilities. One family was so committed to allowing their child to go to a local school — as opposed to subjecting her to a lengthy commute to the farther away, accessible school — that a parent visited the school several times a day to carry the young girl up and down stairs to attend classes.

A spokesman for the Education Department has said the department is reviewing the letter and remains committed to increasing the accessibility of New York City’s school buildings, according to The New York Times.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Other

Why You Shouldn’t Say This Simple Word to Special Needs Parents

As I listened to the lyrics of “Grown-Up Christmas List,” I took a moment to reflect on my list this year. Just a few months ago, it would have consisted of only one thing: a diagnosis for my daughter. But a few weeks ago, we were given some information from our geneticist that has led [...]

To the Sibling Who Sacrificed for My Chronic Illness

Over the years, you’ve probably realized I’m sick a lot. At first, it likely didn’t make any sense. But as you grew up, you became more acutely aware of my signs, symptoms and a whole host of chronic illnesses. During the early years, neighbors, aunts, uncles and grandparents may have stayed with you while Mom [...]

All I Want for Christmas Is a Diagnosis for My Child

I’m not sure what is worse — to know the name of your child’s diagnosis or to know something is wrong and not know what it is. I’ve lived the “not knowing” option for two years now, and I would like to know how it feels to have a name for the collection of symptoms my child [...]

Editor's Note: Why We Removed a Story

On Sunday morning, The Mighty published a story from one of our contributors entitled “Introducing: Meltdown Bingo,” which made light of the meltdowns many autistic people experience on a daily basis. It was written by a mother on the spectrum about her child on the spectrum. She shared a part of her private life with the online world and [...]