- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A group with federal oversight responsibility for disabled New Yorkers says many students at a Yonkers school have been neglected because the school has failed to develop individual learning and specific behavior plans to keep them from acting out.

Disability Rights New York said most of the 73 residential and day students, up to age 21, at the School for Adaptive and Integrated Learning at Ferncliff Manor have persistent and severe behavioral issues requiring continual intervention, which include aggression, hurting other students, and self-injury.

Its preliminary report was issued publicly this week because of the serious findings, which followed complaints from staff and a parent, the group said.

“Ferncliff did not provide the services and behavioral supports their students with disabilities need,” said attorney Jennifer Monthie, director of Disability Rights’ protection and advocacy programs. “As a result, students injure themselves, injure others, and don’t benefit from their education.”

That could be prevented if the school complied with the legal requirements for behavior intervention and individualized education plans, including required counseling.

“DRNY received reports that severe behavior incidents occur regularly throughout the day, including elopements and aggressive behavior that place students and staff at risk,” the report said. “Students are being prevented from benefiting from the educational program and are at risk of harm and injury, which rises to the level of neglect.”

A Ferncliff Manor spokeswoman called the release of tentative findings irresponsible and destructive before the 75-year-old school had an opportunity to challenge them. “We believe that once we have been given an opportunity to review and rebut DRNY’s premature accusations, Ferncliff will be shown to be the caring, dedicated resource and sanctuary it has always been,” Erin Anderson said.

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