Noteworthy special education: elementary schools

These programs were recommended by special education advocates, parents’ groups, university researchers and Insideschools staffers. We looked for schools with high academic standards (reflected by better-than-average test scores); that treat all children kindly; and that serve a substantial number of special needs students. This list is not exhaustive and we welcome additional suggestions.


PS 89 (Battery Park City): This school was one of the first to implement team teaching classes. Some parents have praised it for the support it provides to students with learning disabilities.

PS 41 (Greenwich Village): On a 2012 visit, Insideschools found the school fully integrated special needs children "without stigma." The school has three speech therapists and offers occupational therapy

PS 158 (Upper East Side): "The school has an extensive special education program including occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech services, vision and hearing services and adaptive physical education for the disabled,'' as well as team-teaching and self-contained classes, Insideschools found on a visit in 2011.

PS 112 and PS 206 (East Harlem): PS 112 (serving K-2) and PS 206 (serving grades 3 to 8) share a building. PS 112 has an "Intensive K" class for children who are not appropriate for the NEST K but may be after one year of intensive social/language/behavior support. It also has a dual-language NEST class. “This is an exciting place to learn, whether it’s art (Studio in a School) or video chatting with children in China,” said special ed advocate Dorothy Siegel. PS 206 has a NEST program for middle school students with autistic spectrum disorders. More than a third of PS 206 students have IEPs, with 83 percent of them in less restrictive settings.

PS 199 (Upper West Side): One of the city's first barrier-free schools, PS 199 has a legacy of serving students with physical challenges. Students with all types of disabilities, depending on the level of support they need, are enrolled in either the general or special education classrooms. Wheel-chair accessible playground.

Manhattan School for Children (Upper West Side): This wheelchair accessible school is in the forefront of "inclusion," integrating severely disabled children in general education classes. The school goes to great lengths to help disabled children take part in regular classes. For example, a keyboard with pictures allows a child who cannot speak to express himself. About 120 children have IEPs, and 32 have severe motor challenges.

PS 75 (Upper West Side): The school has two integrated co-teaching classes on every grade level, some of which are dual language -- English and Spanish. Some severely handicapped children from District 75 attend regular classrooms, with extra assistance offered in the class. The school hosts an ASD Nest progam for students on the autism spectrum.

PS 48 (Washington Heights): In 2009, the school won the National Center for Learning Disabilities; Pete & Carrie Rozelle Award given to schools that are particularly successful teaching children with learning disabilities. PS 48 offers bilingual special ed services.

Brooklyn elementary

PS 172 (Sunset Park): Nearly a quarter of all students have IEPS and all in grades 3 through 5 scored proficient on the state math test. Those are very high test scores for anyone—particularly for students with disabilities.

PS 380 (Williamsburg/Greenpoint): The school offer a bilingual English/Yiddish special ed programs. It shares space with a District 75 school and works to include its students in PS 380's activities. In 2011, the school won the National Center for Learning Disabilities; Pete & Carrie Rozelle Award for schools that are particularly successful in addressing the learning and social/emotional needs of students with learning disabilities. The group praised PS 380 for its inclusion efforts and said, "Students identified with learning disabilities have their progress closely monitored and receive the additional time and support that they need to be successful."

PS 32 (Carroll Gardens): There is a wide range of extra help available including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech. The school is particularly known for its NEST program in which high-functioning children with autism learn the critical social skills that otherwise elude them, Insideschools found in 2011.

Brooklyn New School (Carroll Gardens): "On every grade, there are classes that mix special and general education students in one room with two teachers, one trained in special education. Two specially trained teachers work in the classrooms or pull small groups out for quiet, concentrated sessions. There is a designated occupational and physical therapy room and other services on-site, including speech and guidance," Insideschools reported after a 2011 visit.

PS 10 Magnet School of Math, Science and Design Technolog (Park Slope): In 2011, Inside Schools found that "school leaders have made a significant commitment to children with special needs, including a fully accessible playground." The Park Slope school is largely barrier free and has ample adaptive equipment so all children can participate in school activities. A team assessing special ed ( praised PS 10 for integrating all students into its rich arts program." The school has also provided extensive professional development on collaborative team teaching.

PS 295 (Park Slope): "The school takes particular pride in its special education program, which has a wait list and serves nearly one-third of the population," Insideschools reported in 2009. The school offers bilingual special ed services. Students with IEPs in its team teaching classes recorded substantial gains on the state ELA test in 2010-11.

PS 372, The Children's School (Park Slope): One of the first schools to provide team teaching classes for special and general education students, PS 372 says it "is the only elementary school in New York City where all children, from pre-K to fifth grade, work side by side throughout the school day with classmates who have a range of abilities and disabilities." In addition to its main building in Park Slope, it has an outpost in Fort Greene for children with autism spectrum disorders.

PS 15, Patrick Daly School (Red Hook): This school has a high percentage of special education students and offers both self-contained and team teaching classes. Many of its students receive occupation or physical therapy. The Department of Education has recognized its efforts to close the achievement gap among special ed students.

PS 244 (East Flatbush): This barrier free school offers a NEST program for higher functioning children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Dorothy Siegel, the founder of NEST, has praised it for being loving, having high academic standards and serving all special needs children.

PS 222 (Gravesend): The school offers a NEST program for high functioning children with autism spectrum disorders. Dorothy Siegel, the founder of NEST, says PS 222 is a loving school with high academic standards that serves all special needs children well.

Queens elementary

PS 46 Alley Pond (Bayside): The school was one of the first in the district to offer inclusion classes, and its commitment to special ed continues. The principal, Marsha Goldberg, was previously the District 26 supervisor for special ed. The school features an auditorium with a wheel-chair accessible stage and a corridor dedicated to support services for students with special needs, including an elevator and a physical therapy room. (

PS 186 Castlewood (Bayside): The school has a NEST program for students with autism spectrum disorders and shares space with a District 75 school. Castlewood "includes students who have moderate to severe learning disabilities in many of the general education classrooms. The staffs of the two schools engage in mutual professional development and decision-making while sharing resources and expertise. Parents of students with disabilities are fully involved with all school activities and are an important component in school success," according to a ( report by New York's STAIR Project.

Renaissance Charter School (Jackson Heights): This K-12 school has a long history of integrating special needs children into general education classrooms.

Bronx elementary

PS 396 (Bronx): This school is home to an ASD NEST program, which features inclusion classes for high functioning children with autism spectrum disorders. The school staff ( includes occupational, physical and speech therapists. “A very good school serving a very poor neighborhood that includes a homeless shelter,” says Dorothy Siegel. “The new principal is very good.”

Staten Island elementary

The Michael J. Petrides School (Staten Island): The school offers a NEST program for students with autism spectrum disorders. Staten Island parents consider it a good place for special ed students and praise the principal for her work.

PS 69 Daniel D Tompkins (Staten Island): This school, which has a NEST program, has a good reputation on Staten Island. “People with special needs children move into the zone to go to PS 69,” said Siegel. “The principal is amazing.”