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Several families with students enrolled in New York City public schools reached out to PIX11 News to say their child was missing their paraprofessional in their school building — oftentimes a teaching assistant or instructional aide — and having trouble staying in school or even getting to school. 

Officials with the education advocacy group Parents to Improve School Transportation New York said they’re trying to help a number of families match with a paraprofessional to get children back in schools, saying there are dozens with a lapse in coverage.

A Spokesperson for the Department of Education pushed back in a lengthy statement to PIX11 News:

“All students should have access to the services they’re entitled to, and we have quickly brought in qualified reinforcements to ensure schools have appropriate staff coverage. There are 4,000 qualified substitute paraprofessionals in our schools right now, and we have dedicated teams doing all they can to meet the needs of every child.

Editor’s Note: The Department of Education spokesperson issued a revised statement to their initial statement. The new statement is seen above.