State comptroller's office: Some children with special needs faced 'learning loss' as schools closed amid pandemic

While the pandemic upended the school year for so many students, children with special needs were most affected, according to a new report from the state comptroller.
The report encourages school districts to prioritize spending increased state aid and federal emergency education aid on programs specifically geared toward special education to avoid "learning loss."
North Babylon mother Kathleen Garbriele says she saw her 6-year-old daughter, Vanessa, slip educationally as services for children with autism became limited during the pandemic.
"She lost a lot of her verbal and we were seeing some behaviors we had never seen before," Kathleen Garbriele says.
Deputy Comptroller for Budget and Policy Analysis Maria Doulis says that the report was meant to highlight these issues.
"The effect of missing these critical services during the pandemic will be probably to compound that impact and so the comptroller, in this report, is drawing attention to the issue," she says. "It is critical to, in these reopening plans, address and come up with individual client plans for the students how they will make up for the learning losses that were compounded during the pandemic."
Kathleen Garbriele says that the Board of Education is working with her on Vanessa's care.
Port Washington schools superintendent says the district has already started services for children with special needs.
"We added inclusion classes at the elementary level. We had summer school. We took those federal funds and the extra state funds and we channeled it towards summer programs that are not mandated," says Dr. Michael Hynes. "We've also added social workers, guidance counselors."
According to New York state, there are more than 460,000 students with disabilities statewide - making up about 18% of kindergarten through 12th grade enrollment.