NYC Special Needs' Substitutes Must Speak Languages Bi-Lingual Students Require to Learn
by Yehudit Garmaise
The NYC Department of Education (DOE) says that it has a “surplus of substitutes” to replace the teachers who refuse to get vaccinated, and, as a result, have been put on unpaid leave until they get their shots, however some residents of Boro Park who send their children to Brooklyn schools that teach students with special needs, say that those substitutes often do not speak the languages that bi-lingual students require to learn.
For instance, one student, who is autistic and non-verbal, and whose family speaks Yiddish at home, has on his Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) that says that he requires a bi-lingual teacher who speaks both Yiddish and English.
However, since last Monday, this boy has been sent to a new classroom that is led by a substitute whose second language is Russian, which he does not understand.
When BoroPark24 asked Mayor de Blasio this morning whether the DOE could do a better job of providing substitutes who speak the languages that bi-lingual special-needs students require, he said “the point was well-taken.”
“We do have a lot of different substitutes available, and that includes substitutes who can speak a variety of languages,” the mayor said.
“But we need to pinpoint to make sure we make the right connections,” acknowledged the mayor, who added that at last count 96% of NYC teachers are vaccinated and teaching in their regular classrooms.
Thankfully, after two weeks of being absent, in an update, the Boro Park boy's teacher received her first vaccination shot, and she will return to her regular classroom this Monday.
This morning, however, the mayor told BoroPark24, “if you would share any issues in special needs classrooms with the team here at City Hall, we can follow up and make sure those families, those children get what they need and we continue to hire, so if we see a very specific need that is not filled right now, we will go and find someone who can provide that help for the child.”
In addition, while special needs’ classrooms are mandated to accommodate only six students, as a result of the re-shuffling and re-placements of students since last Monday, some special needs classrooms now exceed that limit.
Another Boro Park parent requested that his daughter’s new teacher reach out to call him and his wife to check-in and update them on how their daughter is adapting to her new surroundings.
"We want reassurance,” the Boro Park resident told BoroPark24. "My daughter is non-verbal. We just want reassurance that things are going well."
“Might the new teachers be instructed to call their students' parents to check-in and update them on the well-being of their children, amidst all the changes since the vaccine mandate for teachers went into effect?” BoroPark24 asked the DOE: a representative of which said she will "pass along to the right folks."