June 27, 2016 
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Inside this issue
  In the Spotlight  

Nassau Region PTA to Bring Electronic Cigarette Resolution to National PTA Convention:

Nassau Region PTA advocates have been working tirelessly for the past two years, bringing the electronic cigarettes and youth resolution first to the NYS PTA Convention, and now to 2016 National PTA Convention. The Nassau Region PTA Advocacy Team will be there to defend the resolution: a true demonstration of region teamwork.

To learn about the electronic cigarettes and youth resolution and all the other proposals being brought to the National PTA Convention, you can click on 2016 Proposed Resolutions for National PTA. Good luck to Nassau Region PTA.



  Keep Up to Date on Legislation  

Governor Cuomo's End of Legislative Session Report: Governor Cuomo has posted highlights and achieves for the 2016 Legislative Session. To view the report, click here.

Heroin and Prescription Opioid Abuse: Governor Cuomo announced a final agreement on new legislation to combat heroin and prescription opioid abuse in New York. This comprehensive legislation package limits opioid prescriptions from 30 to 7 days. It will also require mandatory prescriber education on pain management, increase involuntary hospital stay to 48 hours, add 2,500 extra slots for substance use disorder treatment, and will also eliminate insurance barriers to addiction treatment. Read the entire article here.

To view individual legislation, go to the following links:

Budget Agreements: The legislative session ended on Friday June 18 with many details of the budget cleanup agreements still being read and interpreted by education attorneys and advocates. To review the memorandum, click here.

Highlights include: cleanup of STAR and Enhanced STAR provisions, funding of SUNY and CUNY capital (building) projects, detailed reporting requirements of budgets and actual expenses for those receiving Community Schools dollars, extension of mayoral control in NYC for one year, increased flexibility for charter schools and charter operator oversight, extension of the APPR 3012d approval deadline to December 31, 2016. More articles and details on the impact of these new laws will be forthcoming in the next few months.

Child Day Care Safety Bill: This strengthens enforcement against childcare programs that have violated laws related to children's safety and would give parents and caregivers improved access to information about child day care programs Click here for more.

To view the legislation items available on the governor's website for 2015-16, click here.



  Current Advocacy Efforts  

Lead in Schools:
NYS PTA advocated to require testing for lead in school drinking water, by providing a letter of support for the Healthy Schools Network, and sending an Advocacy Alert to PTA members, calling on them to contact legislators and urge their support. During a flurry of end-of-session action, the bill requiring testing for lead in drinking water in schools passed the New York State Senate and Assembly and is headed to the governor to be signed into law. The bill, A10740/S08158, is the first of its kind in the United States.

According to Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, co-author of the bill with Senator Thomas O'Mara, "This bill will ensure that testing is conducted, problems are remediated and results and plans are made public."

Lead is well known to have profound neurotoxic effects, particularly for children. Drinking water has come under scrutiny in recent months after the discovery of widespread contamination in Flint, Michigan. This bill will go a long way towards revealing and remediating lead contamination in the water and food cooked with it; contamination that our children are exposed to at school.

Read the Program Bill memorandum here.

Read Assembly Speaker Heastie's press release here.

Read read the full text of the bill here.



  Special Education  

Assistive Technology: Webcast available on the State Education Department's website here. The topic is Assistive Technology for students with disabilities. It provides an overview of policy, practices and resources.

Funding for IDEA: Since it was enacted in 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Act was never fully funded at the levels promised, which is 40%. In fiscal year 2016, the federal government plans to cover just 16% of the cost. Senator Chuck Schumer, D-NY, is again calling for the federal government to fully fund IDEA and begin to fill the shortfall of more than $17 billion. His press release can be found here.

Suicide: Suicide is a major public health concern. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US for all ages. Children are not immune. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 100,000 children ages 10 to 14, and 7 in 100,000 youth ages 15 to 19 die by suicide each year. Additional information and resources can be found here.

Unemployment Rate for People With Disabilities: The US Department of Labor released its monthly jobs report on Friday. The latest figures show the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is down significantly. This shift came as additional jobs were added to the workforce. The jobless rate for Americans with disabilities fell to 9.7 % in May, down from 10.7% in April. Additional information can be found here. The press release can be found here.

Transition Process: June is the time of year where parents and students need to work through the transition process. This could be to a new grade level, a college or the workplace. These links provide additional support and resources to make the process smoother: Guide to student transition planning and Transition age youth resources.



  NYS Board of Regents Updates  

At the NYS Board of Regents meeting held on June 13-14, the Regents adopted a number of policies regarding teacher certification, NYS assessments and Regents exams, graduation easements for students with disabilities, amendments to required safety drills, waivers for specific hardships on using outside evaluators for APPR, and timelines for implementing the new science standards.

Students with disabilities received:

  • Low pass options for Regents exams and an appeal process to enable an additional easement of pass scores, in addition to the option for a local diploma which is determined by the local school superintendent. These rules are applicable for those eligible to graduate June 2016; the rules can read here
  • Summary PowerPoint is available here
  • Regents continue work on CDOS and exit criteria; read more here

The Regents are concerned about the overrepresentation of children from racial, cultural, ethnic and linguistic minority backgrounds in special education programs. Discussions included a review of NY data, districts with disproportionate indicators, strategies for intervention and a PowerPoint highlighting one school's success story.

Read the data and strategy review here.


Curriculum and Learning Standards reviews

  • The timeline for implementing new Science Standards and Assessments can be found here
  • Guidance enabling districts to choose Social Studies Regents options can be found here

APPR - The Regents adopted flexibility rules on the use of outside evaluators for only the 2016-2017 APPR, so that small, rural or challenged districts can hire/use outside evaluators only for those educators previously labeled Developing or Ineffective while using in-house evaluators for Proficient and Highly Proficient educators. Read more here.

Changes in required safety drills include fewer fire drills that are replaced by emergency response (lockdown) drills within the annually adopted Safety Plan. The amendments expanded fire drill requirements to also include emergency drills to prepare students to respond appropriately in the event of a sudden emergency. The statute now requires 12 drills be conducted each school year, 4 of which must be lock-down drills, the remaining 8 are required to be evacuation drills. There is still a requirement that 8 of the required 12 drills must be completed in the first half of the school year. However, the date of completion has been changed from December 1 to December 31 of each school year. Read the report here.

Standards reviews committee members has been posted. Here are the names.

NYSED Regents meeting dates for 2017: Click here for the approved meeting dates




Federal Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force:
The Task Force is looking to "increase awareness about comparable insurance coverage, improving understanding of requirements for health plans, and increasing transparency around compliance." The Task Force is looking for feedback from patients, families, advocates, providers, insurers and other stakeholders.To submit comments, click here.

Zika Virus: Governor Cuomo has recently launched aggressive public awareness campaigns to educate New Yorkers on the dangers of the Zika virus. These new PSAs will run in both English and Spanish in New York on 40 different television stations and 100 radio stations, through the mosquito season. Read more on this campaign here.

CDC Director Tom Frieden demands urgent action on the Zika crisis. Read his comments as he addressed the National Press Club at a luncheon on May 26 here.

Drunk and Impaired Driving and Underage Drinking: State agencies will be working cooperatively with local law enforcement agencies to address underage drinking and driving while impaired at summer concerts. Read more here.

There have been previous initiatives, including a recent Memorial Day weekend crackdown. State Police made more than 220 arrests to combat drunk or impaired driving and issued nearly 12,000 tickets. Click here to read more.



  Juvenile Protection and Safety  

Juvenile Justice Reform:
National PTA has partnered with the Campaign for Youth Justice to advocate for juvenile justice reform. Our priority is to keep children out of adult facilities. We are advocating for an entirely separate juvenile justice system for all youth under the age of 18, including courts, and for policy improvements that would keep children from being tried in the adult system entirely. We understand the need for youth to be held accountable for their mistakes but they must be dealt with in developmentally appropriate ways that will provide a positive outcome for them and their communities. Read more here.

The NYS Commission on Youth, Public Safety & Justice was created in 2014 to provide recommendations to the governor pertaining to youth in the state's criminal and juvenile justice systems. The Commission's report contains 38 unanimous recommendations and details a comprehensive strategy to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 15 to 17 in New York, while enhancing public safety and providing opportunity for youth. The NYS PTA position paper Juvenile Justice in NYS supports these initiatives. Families Together in NYS is a strong advocate for the Raise the Age movement. Read the Commission's report here.



  Family Engagement  

Statewide Family Engagement Centers Remains Unfunded: National PTA released the following statement regarding the Family Engagement Centers not being included in the Senate Appropriations Bill, "National PTA is extremely disappointed that the Statewide Family Engagement Centers program is not funded in the bill," said Laura Bay, president of National PTA. "For years, PTA members and families nationwide have been advocating for the prioritization of family engagement in education, as it is proven to advance children's learning and growth, increase student achievement and positively impact school improvement efforts." Read the full statement here.



  July-August Awareness Events  


Fireworks Safety Month

Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month

UV Safety Month

2nd week in July - National Therapeutic Recreation Week

July 11 - World Population Day


National Immunization Awareness Month

Children's Eye Health and Safety Month

Back to School Safety Month

August 2 - National Night Out

August 17-September 5 - Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

August 31 - International Overdose Awareness Day