Graduation Date

Fall 12-13-2019

Grading Professor


Subject Concentration

Spanish Language

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Under federal law, children are guaranteed free, appropriate education, but reports have found failures at every level of the New York City special education system. Despite some improvements by the city in recent years, initial evaluations are still delayed, and mandated services go unprovided. Complaints filed against the city have multiplied. Thousands of parents have to sacrifice savings and time fighting for better services. This report describes the particular challenges faced by minority families using data analysis, interviews with experts, and stories.

Latino students depend on these public services the most—they represent half of NYC students in special education programs. The language barrier makes it harder for Hispanic parents to deal with a system notoriously complex and hard to navigate. Families reportedly lack access to translation and interpretation services, making them unable to communicate with educators and help their kids in their learning process.

In particular, this report follows the stories of a community group of Latina mothers of children with special needs in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, a low-income immigrant neighborhood where most of the population speaks languages other than English at home. Their stories are an example of how the city is failing to provide services to minority students with special needs and the consequences of that failure. These families’ achievements may show a path to improving the lives of Latino children with special needs in the city.

Link to capstone project:

VIDEO_subizar_pamela_sequence1.mp4 (48294 kB)
Video explainer on how New York City is failing minority students with special needs, and the particular challenges faced by Hispanic children.

VIDEO_subizar_pamela_sequence2.mp4 (65598 kB)



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