I received an email the other day suggesting that IUFSD does such a good job educating children with special needs that we have more SPED students than surrounding towns.

Speaking as the parent of two children with special needs, I’ve never heard this view from other parents of SPED kids regardless of where they lived — and given that the special-ed world for kids with severe challenges is quite small, I think I would have heard it if parents of children with disabilities were moving to Irvington in disproportionate numbers.

Below are NYSED data for SPED enrollment in 2011-2012.

In terms of special education, one thing it’s important to look at is how many children are identified as SPED after moving here.

I’ll come back to that later.

All Westchester
County districts
Percent of 
Total Public
& Nonpublic
School Students
in Special
Rye City 4.4% 4.4%
Bronxville 6.6%
Bedford 7.9%
Dobbs Ferry 7.3%
Scarsdale 7.9%
Tarrytown 8.0%
Blind Brook 8.1%
Greenburgh 8.3%
White Plains 8.8%
Eastchester 9.4%
Mamaroneck 9.6%
Rye Neck 9.6%
Pocantico Hills 9.8%
New Rochelle 9.9%
Harrison 10.0%
Briarcliff 10.4%
North Salem 10.5%
Pelham 10.5%
Ardsley 10.7%
Chappaqua 10.8%
Hendrick Hudson 11.4%
Elmsford 11.5%
Byram Hills 11.6%
Hastings 11.6%
Portchester-Rye 11.6%
Somers 11.6%
Irvington 11.7%
Ossining 11.7%
Yorktown 11.8%
Valhalla 11.9%
Edgemont 12.0%
Croton-Harmon 12.3%
Tuckahoe 12.5%
Katonah-Lewisboro 12.8%
Yonkers 13.0%
Mount Pleasant 14.7%
Lakeland 15.0%
Peekskill 15.7%
Mount Vernon 16.1%

Search Results for Westchester County | NYSED
NYSED Special Education School District Data Profile for 2011-2012


Kris Harrison became superintendent in fall 2012.

As of May 25, 2015, Irvington High School’s enrollment in special education stood at 27% (see pages 2 & 17). So we’ve gone from roughly 12% of students in SPED (already very high) to 27% in the first 3 years of Kris Harrison’s tenure here. The new SPED population doesn’t consist of students who’ve just moved here; it consists of students who have always been here.

They’ve been classified as ‘SPED’ well after their early years in the district.

Something is wrong. It’s certainly true that some mental illnesses first appear in adolescence, and students in this situation may well need special education services.

But these numbers are too high regardless.

I’ve fact-checked the numbers with the high school principal twice. The Powerpoint figures are correct.

That leaves three possibilities.

a) The district is failing to identify learning disabilities and other issues when children enter school, as the district is ethically and legally required to do.

b) Parents are voting with their feet. They are moving their children to the protection and the direct instruction they hope will be provided by a special education classification. 

c) Parents are gaming the College Board. It’s extremely difficult to get extra time on the SAT for a child who hasn’t been in special education since the early years, but parents may not know that.

Enrollment back to 1978