Virtual and Digital Messaging Carry the Association’s Priorities to Albany, #4201MaintainToSustain

To View the Association’s Priorities in PDF Form, Click Here

Ten specialized schools, serving students who are blind, deaf and severely physically challenged, will be advancing their common interests and engaging state lawmakers this week as part of it’s 2021 advocacy effort.

The schools work together to ensure their mutual interests are advanced in Albany and in Washington, D.C. as part of New York’s 4201 Schools Association. The group takes its name from the State Education Law, and a specific provision authorizing public support for these independently operated schools.

Dr. Bernadette Kappen, Chairperson of the 4201 Schools Association, and the Executive Director of the New York Institute for Special Education said: “Children who are blind, deaf and physically disabled are experiencing the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote learning and the use of technology and specialty devices are not a replacement for the direct classroom instruction that is essential to meet the academic, emotional and social needs of the students in our care. During the state budget season we are asking for resources that allow us to maintain our programs to sustain our children’s development and well-being.” 

The schools represent approximately 1,500 children with low-incidence disabilities. The Association has identified four priorities as part of its campaign to maintain funding and sustain its operations during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The priorities include:

Continuing state support and resources for the 4201 Schools.  The schools for the blind, deaf and physically disabled request the Legislature’s approval of the sustained financial support of the 4201 Schools, as included in the FY 2021-22 Executive Budget.

Providing Pandemic-Related Emergency Assistance. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a number of unanticipated expenses, including the purchase of personal protective equipment and the need to modify in-classroom spaces, to ensure the safety of students, their families and staff at our schools. The Executive Budget also proposes a federally funded grant program for emergency assistance to non-public schools. The Association requests the Legislature set aside $2.25 million of these funds for the 4201 schools for this purpose.

Supporting Capital Expenses and Investments. The Executive Budget proposes making not-for-profits and school districts eligible to utilize Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) financing for loan, design and construction services for capital projects of $5 million or more. These projects target the ongoing needs for safe and healthy environment of our schools and campuses.  

Increasing Access to Broadband. The Association supports the Executive Budget proposal to make access to broadband available to low-income households statewide to facilitate learning and life needs.

Due to the need to ensure appropriate social distancing practices, the 4201 Schools Association, a well-known presence in the Capitol and Legislative Office Building, is conducting its 2021 advocacy efforts via a digital advocacy initiative. Earlier this month, a series of videos and social media messages were introduced across various digital platforms outlining the impact the schools have on their students and families. This week, advocates will meet using virtual meeting platforms with state legislators to share their thoughts directly; and on Thursday, expect to offer testimony as part of the joint-legislative budget hearing processes. 

To watch videos featuring students, parents, alumni and teachers from member schools, click here.

The members of the New York State 4201 Schools Association are the:

The 4201 Schools Association’s mission is to enhance and advocate for the education and future of New York’s children with low-incidence disabilities. Each school has its own board of directors and receives financial support for operations and programming from the New York State Department of Education. There are 10 private, state-supported 4201 schools across New York State that are members of the Association.


Media Contact: Paul Larrabee,