A bill meant to ensure schools that provide services for students who have disabilities, illnesses or behavioral challenges will be not be penalized due to pandemic-related challenges was signed into law this week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

The measure is meant to aid Special Act schools in New York that offer educational services to underserved students. The measure affects nine school districts in the state and prevents them from being penalized for reduced enrollment or operations. 

“The students in Special Act Schools, which are public schools, should not be discriminated against,” said Assemblyman Tom Abinanti. “Under the law, the Governor signed Special Act Schools will be treated the same as all other schools.”  

A similar bill was approved last year as schools closed and students missed days as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“This law will help mitigate some of the ongoing financial challenges our Special Act school districts are facing because of the pandemic,” said Sen. Peter Harckham. “We have to look for meaningful ways to help residents, including students, and our focus on Special Act schools does exactly that."

Schools in New York expect to return to normal operations in the fall as more students are vaccinated and pandemic restrictions are eased.