STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT /
THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234
James A. Kadamus
Rebecca H. Cort
Charter School Application: New York Center for Autism Charter School
April 13, 2005
Goals 1 and 2
Should the Regents approve the attached proposed charter submitted by the Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education?
Reason(s) for Consideration
Under the New York Charter Schools Act of 1998 (Education Law §§2850-2857), the Board of Regents is authorized to make recommendations on proposed charters submitted by another charter entity. Upon receipt of a proposed charter submitted by a charter entity, the Board of Regents shall either (a) approve and issue the charter as proposed by the charter entity or (b) return the proposed charter to the charter entity for reconsideration with the written comments and recommendations of the Board of Regents. If the Board of Regents fails to act on such proposed charter within 60 days of its submission to the Board of Regents, the proposed charter shall be deemed to have been approved and issued by the Board of Regents at the expiration of such period.
This question will come before the EMSC-VESID Committee on April 14, 2005 for discussion and action. It will then come before the Full Board in the Committee's minutes for final action on April 15, 2005.
This application was to come before the Regents last month and was withdrawn to enable the applicant to respond to State Education Department staff’s questions.
Education Law §2854(2)(a) states that a charter school
cannot discriminate against any student based upon, among other things,
disability. It further states that
admission of students shall not be limited on the basis of, among other things,
intellectual ability, disability, or measures of achievement. Finally, §2854(2)(b) provides that any
child who is qualified under law for admission to a public school is qualified
for admission to a charter school.
Taken together, these provisions suggest that a charter school cannot
limit admissions to any subset of students based upon a particular
characteristic(s) or criteria (other than gender, for which the statute makes an
express exception). SED has acted
consistent with this interpretation of “open admissions.”
However, Education Law §2850(2)(b) also states that a central purpose of
charter schools is to increase learning opportunities for students who are “at
risk of academic failure.”
In light of these possibly contradictory provisions, staff requested
guidance from the Regents on whether the Regents would consider chartering
schools whose purpose was to serve only a specific subset of students, but who
were at risk of academic failure.
The Regents directed staff to review and submit such applications to the
Regents for consideration.
The New York Center for Autism Charter School is the first such
application to be considered pursuant to that directive. It would not follow an open admissions
policy. Rather, admission would be
restricted to autistic students who meet specific
The following table summarizes the number of new charters that may still be issued by charter entities in New York:
SUNY Board of Trustees
All Other Charter Entities
VOTED: That the Board of Regents approve the proposed charter.
Timetable for Implementation
Charters that the Regents approve are effective on the date of the Regents action.
New York State Education
Summary of Proposed Charter
Summary of Applicant
Name of Proposed Charter
York Center for Autism Charter School (NYCACS)
Address: To be
Applicant(s): Ophelia Rudin, Ilene Lainer,
Wayne R. Mucci, Robert J. Dryfoos, Randy I. Horowitz, Stephen F. Kahn, Laura
Anticipated Opening Date:
District of Location:
The New York
Center for Autism (NYCA)
serving students aged 5-9
Projected Enrollment: 12(28)
Ophelia P. Rudin, the lead
applicant, is the Founder and President of OPR Enterprises, Inc. She currently serves on the Board of the
New York Children’s Foundation, a not-for-profit organization created by
children for the benefit of the children affected by the tragedy of September
11th, and the Wellmet Group, an organization committed to the
expansion of women’s roles in philanthropy. Mrs. Rudin is also a Board Member of the
Rachel and Lewis Rudin Foundation, which was established by the Rudin family to
support the philanthropic efforts of organizations based in New York City. She has a B.S. from the Tisch School of
Business and Public Administration and a M.B.A. from Columbia University
Ilene Lainer, Esq. has been
associated since 1983 with Grotta, Glassman, and Hoffman, a law firm
representing large multinational companies, small family-owned businesses,
not-for-profit organizations, and government agencies in the field of labor and
Wayne R. Mucci is the
Executive Director of the Sheltering Arms Children Serivice.
Robert J. Dryfoos is the
founder of The Dryfoos Group, a governmental relations, marketing and lobbying
firm representing educational, economic development and community interests
before the New York State and City governments and was elected to the New York
City Council in 1980, where he served for 11 years.
Randy I. Horowitz is the
Associate Executive Director of the Educational Services at The Eden
II Programs, Staten Island, New York.
Stephen F. Kahn is the
Director of Professional Development and Technology at the Center for
Educational Innovation at the Public Education Association.
Laura Slatkin is the
co-founder and President of Slatkin & Co., a manufacturer of candles,
fragrances, and body therapy products.
She also fundraises and supports many New York charities and serves on
the Board of Directors of the Henry Street Settlement.
The New York Center for Autism
(NYCA) is a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization located in New York
City. It was founded in 2003 by a
group of community members dedicated to increasing the availability and quality
of intensive, science-based educational programs for children with autism living
in New York City. The founders seek
to create a center in Manhattan that will support and facilitate research
related to autism and related topics and will marshal the expertise of
experienced scientists, clinicians, and educators to address the needs of the
wider tri-state area population affected by autism. For the school, NYCA will provide
educational opportunities; provide financial and business acumen; fundraise and
develop strategic partnerships.
NYCA contributions are
included in the proposed charter school’s budget.
The educational program and
structure of the school is modeled after the Alpine Learning Group School in New
Jersey. Alpine has provided
education to children with autism for 15 years.
The proposed charter school
will use Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA).
The ABA methodology of
teaching will include the selection, assessment, and strategies for changing
behavior of social relevance (e.g., academic skills, self-care, vocational and
Each component of the
curricula will outline a specific set of behavioral teaching strategies to teach
the specific objective.
The various strategies
employed by ABA include instructional control, positive reinforcement,
incidental teaching, video modeling, and shaping.
Class size/cohorts will
consist of 4 students with compatible needs.
All students will be assigned
to a 1:4:3 classroom (1 certified special education teacher; 4 students; 3
The non-learning standards
curriculum to be offered at NYCACS in the first year of its operation is
designed to serve the families of NYCACS students. Families will receive visits from a
designated family consultant.
New York State curriculum
areas (ELA, Math, Science, Technology, Health, Physical Education, Social
Studies, Arts, Career Development and Occupational Studies) are reflected in the
Individualized Goal Selection (I.G.S.) curriculum submitted.
Students will receive
intensive, individualized instruction.
The school’s educational
philosophy is grounded in the scientific study of the best practices for
children with autism, and is consistent with the National Research Council’s
suggestions for the education of children on the autistic spectrum.
The school will offer a
program of academic and support services based on applied behavior analysis
(ABA) and provide the parents and families of its students with effective
outreach, training and assistance.
The school year will be
NYCACS will be managed by a
two-person management team comprised of a Director of Education, who will
oversee the development and implementation of academic programs and assessments,
and an Executive Director, who will oversee administrative, business, and
legal/regulatory compliance functions.
Each Director will report directly to the Board of
The number of Trustees of the
Corporation shall be not less than five nor more than fifteen.
One seat on the NYCACS Board
is reserved for a parent of a registered NYCACS student.
The Board will receive regular
reports from each of its committees, comprised of Trustees, staff members, and
others. These committees will
include at least the following: Executive Committee, Finance Committee,
Education/Accountability Committee, Supervision and Evaluation Committee, and
other ad hoc committees.
The school will serve students
with autistic-spectrum disorders, including autism, requiring a specialized
educational environment. The
student’s school environment is determined by his/her home school district
Committee on Special Education (CSE) and is described in each student’s
NYCACS will give preference in
admission to students with autism or other pervasive developmental disorders
requiring a specialized educational environment consisting of four students, one
certified special education teacher and three instructors. For purposes of the admissions lottery,
students in the school will be assigned to one of three cohorts by the CSE with
the advice of the Admissions Review Committee, which will consist of three
specialists all with demonstrated professional experience in autism. If there are more students who apply who
meet the criteria for a cohort than there are seats available, these students
will be placed on the waiting list for that cohort. In the first year of operation, students
ages 5-9 will be admitted; in the second year, students aged 5-7, and in the
third and subsequent years, students aged 5-6. Students older than these ages will not
be admitted to the school.
In the first year the school
will serve 12 students in three cohorts and in the fifth year 28 students.
The start-up budget for the
school projects revenues of $135,000 and expenditures of $135,000, for a
projected surplus of $0.
Expected revenue sources are
private contributions (NYCA), interest income, and the New York Center for
Charter School Excellence. The NYCA
will transfer $300,000 to the school immediately upon issuance of the
charter. Over $650,000 has been
pledged in contributions for the school’s first year of operation and pledges or
guarantees of over $200,000 per year have been identified for years 2-5 of
The first-year budget for the
school projects revenues of $1,304,866.16 and expenditures of $1,304,866.16, for
a projected surplus of $0.
The location of NYCACS has not been
identified but assurances have been provided that the program will be housed in
a public school facility serving elementary-age non-disabled
During the first year, the
following full-time employees will be hired: three certified special education
teachers; nine instructors.
The following contractual
staff will be hired to support the school’s program during the first school
year: ABA Educational Consultant will be contracted; the Special Education
Compliance Specialist will be hired as a contractual employee; Speech and
Language Therapist(s) and Occupational Therapist(s) will be contracted as
The school will also hire an
administrative assistant, health services professional, and security
When fully enrolled with 28
students, the charter school will receive no more than $62,000 per pupil of the
District’s budget (see fiscal impact chart).
Programmatic and fiscal audits
will comply with all requirements made of public schools. The school will employ a New York State
licensed public accountant or certified public accountant to perform the fiscal
audit. In addition, the school will
ensure that the audit is conducted in accordance with GAAP issued by the U.S.
Potential Fiscal Impact
New York Center for Autism
*Based on an agreement in the
charter, the NYCDOE will provide $62,000 per pupil in funding.
30 signatures from parents
were collected on the Parent Petition of Support.
The following people have
written letters of support:
Gerald D. Fischbach, M.D.,
Executive Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences and Dean of the
Faculty of Medicine at the Columbia University Medical
Michael Brogioli, Executive
Director of the Autism Coalition for Research and
Eric Hollander, M.D.,
Executive Director of the Seaver and N.Y. Autism Center for Excellence at the
Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
Harold S. Koplewicz, M.D.,
Director of the NYU Child Study Center.
Glenn R. Tringali, Chief
Executive Office of the National Alliance for Autism
Fred R. Volkmar, M.D., Irving
B. Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and
William Rudin, Chairman of the
Association for a Better New York.
Approve the proposed
1. The Charter School Law generally makes all students residing in the State eligible to apply to attend a charter school and requires that, when applicants exceed available seats, students be accepted through a random selection process. However, formation of a charter school to serve at-risk students is permitted and the Regents have indicated previously their willingness to consider applications with limited admissions criteria. Although the at-risk population defined in this application is limited only to moderately to severely disabled students with autism who have intensive service needs, this is a growing population both nationally and in New York. The program application describes an intensive, research-based intervention model that should benefit both those students enrolled in the program and, eventually, have a broader impact on other public programs serving students with autism.
2. The charter school law requires that justification be provided when a school will serve fewer than 50 students. The applicant has provided evidence that the nature and intensity of the services to be provided require a maximum capacity significantly smaller than that generally projected by charter school applications.