Education News in Brief

U.S. Office for Civil Rights Dismisses Complaint on N.Y.C. Small Schools

By Catherine Gewertz — February 03, 2009 1 min read

The U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights has declined to pursue a complaint alleging that new, small high schools in New York City discriminate against students with disabilities and those with limited English-language skills.

In a Jan. 15 letter to David C. Bloomfield, the activist who filed the complaint, the Education Department said it found insufficient evidence to warrant moving forward on his claims.

The city’s Office of New Schools in 2006 and the chancellor’s office in 2007 gave principals of the new small schools permission to delay admitting some special-needs students until their third year of operation because of staffing and resource limitations, the department’s investigation showed.

But a review of city schools data showed that in their first two years of operation, the new small schools admitted special education students who required self-contained classes or collaborative team teaching, and by their third year, were admitting larger portions of such students than were other high schools, the federal education department’s letter said.

The data also showed that limited-English-proficient students were admitted to the small schools in their first few years in percentages “comparable” to those at other schools, according to the letter.

A version of this article appeared in the February 04, 2009 edition of Education Week