Wednesday, March 10, 2010


New York parents of students receiving special education services may be familiar with VESID, which stands for Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities. VESID has long served a dual function in New York. It is an adult service agency, which deals with individuals over the age of 18 with a documented disability, and coordinates programs and activities to help them find productive work and lead independent lives. As part of this adult mandate, which is the same as agencies in every state established under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (the same law that provides "504 Plans" for students of all ages), VESID counselors may start working with students while they are still in high school, to plan for post high school transition to college or the workplace.

VESID also has an additional function; it is the arm of the New York State Education Department that operates the special education system in New York State. As the VESID website notes, it is presently responsible for the following functions:
  • To oversee the implementation of federal and State laws and policy for students with disabilities;

  • To provide general supervision and monitoring of all public and private schools serving New York State preschool and school-age students with disabilities;

  • To establish a broad network of technical assistance centers and providers to work directly with parents and school districts to provide current information and high quality professional development and technical assistance to improve results for students with disabilities;

  • To ensure a system of due process, including special education mediation and impartial hearings; and

  • To meet with stakeholders through the Commissioner's Advisory Panel for Special Education Services.

There has been discontent in some circles with how VESID performs this part of its role, which has also been impacted by budget and related staffing issues that have impacted its ability to do its job. We have learned that there is now a proposal before the New York State Regents (who supervise all educational matters in the State) that "would include combining all P-12 education issues, including special education, under a new Regents P-12 Committee"which would replace VESID.

Adoption of this proposal can have a real impact in the way the special education services are overseen in New York. We will continue to follow this matter to let parents know of any changes to the special education system.

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