NYU Steinhardt News

Metro's RBERN Co-Hosts Parent Conference on Parental Rights and How to Advocate for ELL/MLL Children

Organized by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) Regional Bilingual Education Resource Center (RBERN) at Fordham University and the New York StateStatewide Language RBERN at New York University, with support from the NYSED Officeof Bilingual Education and World Languages (OBEWL). Approximately 550 parents and persons in parental relation, Parent Coordinators, ELL/MLL Coordinators, parent advocates, community-based organizations (CBOs), and other personnel who work with ELLs/MLLs students and families convened on October 22, 2019 at New York University for a New York State ELLs/MLLs Parent Conference. This year our themes focused on parent rights, social-emotional learning, preparing and planning for college and career success, and building advocacy skills for parents of children in special education.

The ELL/MLL Parent Conference began with greetings from David E. Kirkland, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools at NYU Steinhardt commending the work that participants do to support ELL/MLL parents to ensure that they become more engaged in their children’s education. Featured speakers were Dr. Luis O. Reyes (Member of the NYSED Board of Regents) and Linda P. Chen (Chief Academic Officer of the Department of Education of the City of New York). Other speakers included Camille Mackler (Director of Immigration Legal Policy, New York Immigration Coalition), and Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, Director of Immigrant Students’ Rights Project from Advocates for Children of New York) spoke on immigration issues affecting families of ELLs/MLLs. Informational bilingual materials were provided by MetroPlus Healthcare.


One of the presentations entitled Preparing and Planning for College and Careers While Advocating for ELLs/MLLs was conducted by James F. Rodriguez, Coordinator, College Goal New York; Fausto Salazar from the NYC RBERN; Nick Cruz, Parent Community Coordinator and Sterling Robinson from the Career Technical Education Program – both from the Bronx United Federation of Teachers. Another presentation– Advocacy Skills for Parents of Special Education ELLs/MLL was conducted by Diana Biagioli, Family Educator from INCLUDEnyc. The NYS Statewide Language RBERN, with the collaboration of the NYC RBERN, conducted two presentations: Parents’ Rights: Advocating for ELLs/MLLs Success and How Parents Can Foster Success for ELLs/MLLs in Grades K-8. These two presentations were conducted in English, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean and Spanish. In addition, translation of the two presentations was provide in Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Polish. Staff from the New York City Department of Education, Translation and Interpretation Unit, provided translation during the entire conference.


Parents expressed their gratitude for the wealth of information and how important it is to learn about their rights in order to ensure that their children receive the services they need. The majority of the parents requested more parent workshops in the future. Some of the comments on the evaluation are as follows:

  • “It was in my language and I became informed about my rights as a parent.”
  •  “I learned about help for students who would like to go to college, but can’t register
  • because they are missing some documents.”
  • “I learned about the 5 English proficiency levels.”
  • “I learned how to help my special education child.”
  • “I learned about the explanation of the assessments for students.”
  • “Know more about ENL programs. Know at what English level my child is and how to ask
  • the school to help my child.”
  • “Issues about immigrant rights.”