Breaking: Miller Secures Summer School Programs for Special Needs Students

Gov. Cuomo announces summer in-person instruction for students with special needs, IEPs
June 6, 2020

After months of advocating and working with the governor’s office to find a solution to safely allow students with IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) to have in-person school based instruction over the summer, Assemblywoman Melissa “Missy” Miller (R,C,I-Atlantic Beach) is thrilled to announce that the governor’s administration has issued an Executive Order allowing in-person summer school programs for this population.

Upon hearing that summer school would continue to be via remote learning this year, Assemblywoman Miller was gravely concerned about the negative long-term impact this decision would have on students with IEPs. The majority of students who attend summer school are students with IEPs; students with epilepsy, autism, severe learning disabilities, mental and behavioral disabilities, cerebral palsy and so many more. Without the 12-month program they require, many of the students would regress without receiving structure and therapies continuously. In the span of the almost three months of remote learning, Miller has heard countless stories across the state of New York from families sharing how their children have lost significant skills. Teenagers who are no longer toilet trained after being so for years, children who are having outbursts of anger, hitting their parents, kids who have lost language and writing skills or who will no longer socially engage.

After months of advocating for these students, the governor’s administration issued an Executive Order today, June 5, will allow in-person summer school programs for students with IEPs for school districts that are willing.

On May 21, Miller wrote a letter to the governor urging him to reconsider his decision declaring all summer school programs to be via remote or distance learning. In the past three months, many of the school districts have had difficulty figuring out how to provide remote therapies. Miller questioned exactly how effective remote physical therapy or occupational therapy could be. She also noted parents have difficulties providing needed care and therapies for their children as they are doing something they have had no training or schooling for.

On June 2, Miller wrote a second letter to the governor once again asking him to strongly reconsider his decision regarding summer school programs. As he authorized all summer camps to reopen on June 29, Miller questioned how he would not allow children who have special needs to return to school to receive in-person vital therapies and instruction that they so desperately need.

“I thank Gov. Cuomo and his administration for their directive that allows students with IEPs to attend school-based instruction this summer. From the moment schools were closed, I shared my concerns with his office, and they were responsive and listened to my concerns. I have heard so many heartbreaking stories, including watching my own son regress. Remote learning and therapies have been too difficult to accomplish and have not been beneficial for so many of these students. Special needs students, like my son Oliver, desperately require one-on-one in-person instruction to succeed. A nurturing, focused path of continuity is so important to this population of students. The quality time they have in a classroom with experienced professionals is so critical and just what they so desperately need,” said Miller. “I appreciate the leadership shown by Gov. Cuomo on ensuring that our most vulnerable students are provided the resources they need. Thank you for listening to the concerns of so many parents like myself and issuing a real solution.”