Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a listing of common questions and answers for parents and families:

Much of the following information was obtained from the New York City Education Department’s “A Shared Path to Success: A Parent’s Guide to Special Education Services for School-Age Children.”


What is the application process for attending an AHRC New York City school?

Parents can contact the school directly by calling the number listed on the school information tab. Once you have made contact with a school, you can set up a tour and interview in order to commence the screening process.

When can I request a tour?

After you contact the school, a meeting with the Principal and a tour can be arranged to fit your schedule.

Do we bring our child on the tour?

Parents can bring their children on the tours as we want them to be part of the interview process as well. 

Is there an application fee?

There is no fee for applying to AHRC New York City schools.

Are applications considered on a first-come, first-served basis?

Every family who tours and submits a completed application will be considered for admission to their desired school.

What if I need more information?

We welcome your questions and look forward to providing you with any information that can assist you with the application process.

Who is responsible for the referral, evaluation, and placement processes?

If there are any questions regarding your child’s development, then the process of identification and referral should begin. You should seek out a child development professional (e.g. psychologist, or pediatrician) to determine the status of your child. All early childhood research suggests that the most critical years for the development of children are the first 5 years of life. This is particularly true if the child has a disability. If your child is currently in public school, then your child’s current school is responsible for evaluating your child. For children in non-public, private, or charter schools, then your local Committee on Special Education (CSE) is responsible for these processes.

What is the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE)?

When you have concerns about your child’s development, learning, behavior, or other fundamentally important skill, you should inform your pediatrician, preschool teachers, or other experts in child development. If you then want to refer your child to the CPSE (programs for ages 3-5), you must contact the Chairperson through the Special Education Department. As a parent referring your child to the CPSE for evaluation, you will select an evaluation agency from the approved county list provided to you. Once all evaluations are completed and the district has received the written reports, a formal meeting will be scheduled. The committee will discuss the results, determine if your child is eligible for services, and if necessary, develop a special education plan for your child. The CPSE will coordinate the entire preschool education process and help develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and facilitate the implementation of its recommendations.

What licensures do teachers and teaching assistants need to work in the preschools?

Classroom teachers and teaching assistants are all certified by NYSED.

What is the Committee on Special Education (CSE)?

The CSE is a multidisciplinary team whose primary duties are the identification, classification, and placement of children who are disabled. This team includes the child’s teacher, a school psychologist, a special education teacher, a parent of a disabled student, and most importantly, the parent of the child. This team designs the program and sets goals for helping the child achieve.

What happens after preschool?

At the age of five, your child “ages out” of the CPSE and is then referred to the CSE; CSE serves children and adolescents ages 5-21, until special education ends. If your child has been receiving services through the CPSE, you should contact the CPSE chairperson if you have questions about services. The CPSE chairperson will begin the referral to the CSE to determine if your child will maintain his or her eligibility. If it is determined that no special education services will be needed in kindergarten, your child’s CPSE records will be sealed and kept confidential.

What are Special Class Services?

They are services provided for students with disabilities in a self-contained classroom. They are designed for students who have needs that cannot be appropriately met in a general education classroom, even with extra support. In special classes, students are grouped due to similarity in educational needs; classrooms may contain students with the same disability or different disabilities as long as they have similar levels of academic ability, learning style, socialization, and behavioral management need. The levels of staffing and teacher-to-student ratio depend on the students’ educational, social, behavioral, and other necessities. AHRC New York City school-age programs consist of special classes.

What rights do parents have?

Parent rights are clearly outlined in federal special education law. They have the following rights:

  • To be fully informed about their child’s progress, services, and assessment
  • To participate in the various educational processes and decision-making
  • To receive prior notice for any meetings and to provide consent when necessary
  • To have any information that could personally identify students remain confidential
  • To examine all relevant students records at any point
  • To timely and impartial resolutions of disputes and conflicts

What are accommodations in special education?

Accommodations allow a student to have certain resources at his/her disposal that assist in how the student learns without changing what is being taught or tested. An accommodation is intended to alleviate the effects of a student’s disability but to keep intact learning, behavior, self-care, and other expectations. A student’s accommodations must be listed in the IEP. Curricular accommodations may include the use of large-print texts, calculators, and computers.

What are modifications in special education?

Modifications are changes made to the curriculum and instruction that alter the learning, behavior, or other expectations to adequately address student deficits. Modifications are listed in the student’s IEP to demonstrate how programming and assessment have been changed to reflect learning deficits. Curricular modifications include re-creating assignments and changing the focus of the work in order to increase educational benefit.

What is assessment in special education?

An assessment is a method that a school uses to gather and analyze information regarding a student’s cognitive, academic, social, emotional, behavioral, or functional performance at school. Examples of assessments include behavior charts, informal tests, interviews, observations, etc.

What is the Child Study Team (CST)?

The Child Study Team is a multi-disciplinary team within your child’s school that meets regularly to discuss students whose educational, behavioral, or other issues have become persistent and pervasive. The CST will often brainstorm assessment strategies for the issue and then create plans for addressing the problem.

What is a behavior plan?

Behavior plans are a list of strategies and tools that teachers can use for individual students when their behavior significantly impacts learning and/or safety. Behavior plans are incorporated into a student’s individualized education program (IEP). They typically use positive interventions and strategies to challenging behavior and do not use aversive methods for modification purposes.

What is a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA)?

FBAs are conducted for students whose behavior is significantly interfering with their learning or the learning of their classmates. The FBA is a systematic process for determining the purpose or function of the behavior based on observational, assessment, and situational data. The circumstance (i.e. what happens before and after) of the behavior are closely monitored and then analyzed by trained behavior therapists. The results inform the educational team’s development of an individualized behavior plan

What is FAPE?

‘FAPE’ is an acronym meaning Free and Appropriate Public Education. Every student in the state of New York has the right to a free and appropriate public education. For students with disabilities such as autism spectrum disorders, FAPE requires that they attend a school with higher student-to-teacher ratios such as AHRC New York City schools.

What is an IEP?

An IEP is a written plan that describes how a student will receive appropriate educational services. The IEP identifies the reason for special education (i.e. specific disability, learning needs, behavioral issues, etc.), related services, and instructional methods that the school will provide to the student.

What should be included in the IEP?

The IEP must include a description of your child’s present educational performance, and a statement of measurable short-term and long-term goals that will help your child to demonstrate reasonable progress in the school’s curriculum. The IEP should also include an explanation of ratios, related services, and any behavioral plans. Information about present academic functioning, specific dates and times of services, and instructional locations are also mandated in IEPs. If your child is over fourteen, the IEP must also include an outline of transitional services that will be provided to help your child prepare for life after school.

What are Related Services?

The main purpose of related services is to help a student achieve his or her educational goal. The term covers the extra supports and provisions that students with special needs require with their individualized free and appropriate education. This includes the early identification and assessment of disabling conditions in children. Examples of Related Services include:

  • Audiology & Hearing Education Services
  • Vision Education Services
  • Counseling services (including rehabilitation counseling)
  • Early Identification and Assessment of Disabilities in Children
  • Interpreting services
  • Medical Services for diagnostic or evaluation purposes
  • Occupational therapy
  • Orientation & Mobility Services
  • Parent counseling and training
  • Physical therapy
  • Psychological services
  • Recreation (including therapeutic recreation)
  • Speech-Language Pathology Services
  • School Health Services & School Nurse Services
  • Social Work
  • Transportation

Is transportation always provided for the students?

The basis by which transportation for children with special needs is provided is always determined by the CPSE and CSE of the child’s local school district. Parents are encouraged to transport their own children as feasible and costs may be reimbursed at a per-mile rate or at a public service fare rate by the municipality (NYC DOE) and approved by the Commissioner.

What is a paraprofessional?

Some students with disabilities such as ASD may require the support of a 1:1 paraprofessional for a portion of the entire day. The paraprofessional can help the student address issues such as behavior management and/or help the student better access the instructional content. They can also be assigned to tasks such as supporting the student’s transition to and from the bus, interpreting communication, mobility and orientation, health services, and toileting skills. Paraprofessionals are never solely responsible for providing the instruction to their assigned students; rather, they are in a supportive role and should be supervised by a certified teacher in all cases. In AHRC schools, paraprofessionals are called Behavior Trainer Assistants (BTA).

How can I get special transportation for my special needs child?

Transportation by bus or van is a related service that is included in the child’s IEP. Door-to-door transportation services are usually provided for students who are educated in self-contained classrooms such as those in the AHRC school-age programs. For any questions regarding transportation issues, parents should contact the Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT) at 718-392-8855.

Can parents participate in the development of their child’s IEP?

The law is very clear that parents have the right to participate in developing their child’s IEP. IDEA makes parents equal members of the IEP team.

How are students assessed in AHRC New York City schools?
Do they take the Regents exams?

Students in AHRC NYC schools do not participate in the New York State Regents examinations. They are evaluated with the New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA), a comprehensive, portfolio approach that allows students to demonstrate their gains in various content areas. On an annual basis, each student’s teacher assembles a collection of assignments, completed projects, and test results in order to show that significant progress has been made over the course of the year and which areas still require support.

What kind of diploma do students receive upon graduating from AHRC New York City High School?

Students who participate in the NSYAA will receive the Skills and Achievement Commencement Credential. When students are assessed via the NSYAA, then they are not eligible for a Local, Regents, or Advanced diploma. They may still pursue these degrees as well as their GED regardless of the diploma objectives on the IEP.

What obligations do schools have for older students who are making a transition to the adult world?

The student’s IEP team is required to identify the young adult’s individualized transition needs, starting by age 15. The plan should concentrate on students’ instructional needs as they relate to the transition from high school to post-secondary school activities. This coordinated set of activities should also address employment opportunities, community experiences, daily living skills, related services, and an assessment of functional strengths and needs in order to create a long- and short-term plan that best prepares the individual for the adult world.

Are there any resources offered by the New York State Education Department that can help with this transition?

Yes, New York State offers a borough-based Adult Career and Continuing Education Services—Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) that provides opportunities for young adults with disabilities to gain the necessary experience for future employment. ACCES-VR can also help these individuals keep their jobs when they are having difficulty maintaining employment.

The following is a list of the Borough District Offices:

  • Bronx 718-931-3500 1215 Zerega Avenue Bronx, NY 10462
  • Brooklyn 718-722-6700 New York State Office Building 55 Hanson Place, Second Floor Brooklyn, NY 11217
  • Manhattan 212-630-2300 116 West 32nd Street, 6th Floor New York, NY 10001
  • Harlem Satellite Office 212-961-4420 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Office Building Serving 110th St. to 155th St. 163 W. 125th Street, 7th Floor, Room 713 New York, NY 10027
  • Queens 347-510-3100 1 LeFrak City Plaza 59-17 Junction Boulevard, 20th Floor Corona, NY 11368
  • Staten Island Satellite Office 718-816-4800 2071 Clove Road, Suites

What’s best for my child?

When looking for the appropriate educational setting for students with disabilities such as autism, parents will be confronted with many claims, some accurate and some false. The most important consideration is whether the program will best help your child make significant progress and develop the necessary skills for independence and high quality of life in whichever setting is appropriate. Regardless of whether you decide that AHRC New York City schools can provide those services, you should recognize some of the fundamental components of high-quality educational programming for students with autism and other disabilities. The following list describes quality indicators in special education services, regardless of brand name:

  • It is based on procedures derived from the principles of behavior
  • It incorporates continuous, direct measurement of observable behavior
  • It stresses individualization and specification of student curricula
  • It evaluates and redesigns teaching based on analysis of data on student performance
  • It promotes the generalization of skills beyond the training environment