Boldly Reimagining Special Education

Special Education Advisory Council

On December 1st, Chancellor Banks announced plans to form a Special Education Advisory Council to help reimagine special education in NYC. NYC Public Schools convened a diverse group of stakeholders to launch the council on February 27, 2023. Composed of mostly external stakeholders and key NYC Public Schools field personnel, the council serves in an advisory capacity and voices concerns on important issues. 

The council will recommend and provide actionable feedback on the proposals their respective internal working groups make with cabinet’s approval. The advisory council, which includes local community members, public school staff, students, parents, and NYC Public Schools field personnel, meets bimonthly to voice concerns on important issues in special education. Sub-Councils meet monthly to develop recommendations to improve special education.

New York City Public Schools has partnered with the Center for Public Research and Leadership (CPRL) at Columbia University to co-facilitate the Special Education Advisory Council.

Translations coming soon!


  • Support the design of a long-term vision for Special Education in New York City
  • Collect information on student and family experiences to inform planning
  • Generate recommendations for improving special education
  • Build awareness of special education programs and services

Language Initiative

If you identify as a student with a disability and you would like to volunteer to contribute to our language initiative to reimagine the language we use to describe students with disabilities and special education, please email to let us know you are interested.

2023 Special Education Advisory Council Members

  • Melinda Andra - Education Law Task Force Representative
  • Lucy Antoine - Parent
  • Shirley Aubin, Parent Leader for FLHS, QHSPC, CPAC & L4L, BPTC Assistant Youth Coordinator
  • Dr. Sanayi Beckles-Canton - Co-President of the Citywide Council on Special Education
  • Dina Benanti - Committee on Special Education 7 (D20 & D21), Chairperson
  • Joann Cummings - District 29Q President of the President Council and CEC 29 IEP Parent Member
  • Commissioner Christina Curry - Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities
  • Marjorie Dienstag - Panel for Educational Policy; Parent
  • Beth Eisgrau-Heller - Parent and 853 Advocate
  • Lorraine Emerson - Parent
  • Laura Espinoza - Parent
  • Stacey Gauthier - Executive Director and Principal, Renaissance Charter School; Executive Director, The Renaissance Charter School 2
  • Georgia Giannikouris Brandeis, Assistant Principal, Townsend Harris High School
  • MaryJo Ginese - United Federation of Teachers: Vice President for Special Education
  • Celia Green - Citywide Council for District 75 Co-President; former Chancellor’s Parents Advisory Council Representative; Parent
  • Paullette Healy - Co-President of the Citywide Council on Special Education
  • Kyeatta Hendricks - Special Education Teacher K-12 NYC Public Schools
  • Lupe Hernandez - Office of Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams
  • Rima Izquierdo - Parent Leader District 75, District 8, District 11; Bronx High School Presidents Council President; Bronx Developmental Disabilities Council Executive Board Parent Member
  • City Council Education Committee Chair Rita Joseph
  • Melissa Katz - NYC Charter School Center Representative
  • Lauren Kish - Principal PS 42
  • Nelson Mar - Attorney at Legal Services NYC
  • Kin Mark, M.S., P.D. - Citywide Council on High Schools / Vice-President and Brooklyn Representative
  • Ellen Mc Hugh - Public Advocate Appointee to Citywide Council on Special Education
  • Maggie Moroff - Senior Special Education Policy Coordinator at Advocates for Children of New York (AFC)
  • Erika Newsome - Special Education Parent Advocate
  • Kristie Patten - Vice Dean at NYU; ASD Nest Partner
  • Lori Podvesker - INCLUDEnyc
  • Smita Prakash - Occupational Therapist at NYC Public Schools
  • Glenys Rivera - DC-37 local 372 2nd Vice President
  • Desines Rodriguez - Community Education Council 32 President
  • Marisela Sánchez - District 75 Teacher
  • Superintendent. Harry Sherman - Superintendent District 9
  • Rosemarie Sinclair - Executive Vice President for Council for School Supervisors and Administrators
  • Assistant Commissioner Christopher Suriano - New York State Education Department: Assistant Commissioner for Special Education
  • Amy Tsai - Co-President of Citywide Council for D75; Parent
  • Whitney Toussaint - Community Education Council 30 Representative
  • Chris Treiber - Associate Executive Director of Children’s Services, InterAgency of Developmental Disabilities Agencies, Inc.
  • Barbara Tremblay - Principal P721K
  • Dr. Hoa Tu - Superintendent of Queens North High Schools
  • Claudine Cyrius Saint Victor - Parent
  • Dr. Marion Wilson - Superintendent District 31
  • Effi Zakry - Panel for Educational Policy; Parent; Former VP of Citywide Council on High Schools
  • NYC Public Schools students and alumni

Stakeholder Engagement 

We want to learn from all stakeholders who are interested in sharing their perspectives. We will be engaging stakeholders using a variety of methods on a rolling basis over the coming months.

Expectations For Advisory Council Members

  • Council membership is strictly voluntary 
  • Members should be available to attend 1-2 meetings per month (these meetings will be between one and two hours long). 
  • Members should provide the DOE with an email address (or alternate/accessible mode of communication), and check it frequently for time-sensitive communications. 
  • Members may also be asked to support with this work in between meetings, this support may involve: 
  • Drafting communications 
  • Interviewing stakeholders 
  • Reviewing materials 
  • Brainstorming ideas 
  • Commitment to participate through complete phases of the work. Phases will be a minimum of six months.

Other Opportunities to Participate

We have already received overwhelming interest in this council, and we want to make clear that participation in this work is not limited to Council membership. We are committed to making sure every perspective is considered throughout this process, and we want to learn from all stakeholders who are interested in sharing their perspectives. You can also participate by

  • Completing surveys : responding to surveys on specific topics or special education broadly
  • Speaking in one on one or small group conversations: participating in or conducting interviews or focus groups 
  • Being an ambassador to the work: spreading the word, sharing resources with your community, and attending events to show your support!