Mayor Adams Approves Dyslexia Screenings In City Jails And Aids EMS To Firefighter Transition

October 18, 2023

 New York City Mayor Eric Adams today signed two bills that will make New York City safer and provide a pathway to opportunity for more New Yorkers.

Intro. 349-A will allow the city to screen New Yorkers in city jails for dyslexia and provide appropriate interventions. Intro. 1190 will allow more employees of the Fire Department of the City of New York Bureau of Emergency Medical Services (FDNY EMS) to apply to become firefighters.

Expanded dyslexia screenings under Intro. 349-A build on Mayor Adams’ historic investment in the country’s largest, most comprehensive approach to supporting public school students with dyslexia, announced in May 2022.

“If we don’t educate, we incarcerate. Too many young people are part of the pipeline to jail because of a lack of literacy and dyslexia screenings — and once they are in the prison system, they continue to fall behind,” said Mayor Adams. “We are changing that today by signing Intro. 349-A and preparing to launch lifesaving dyslexia screenings for New Yorkers in custody. As our administration continues to make public safety our number one priority, we are signing Intro. 1190, which recognizes the countless sacrifices our FDNY EMS frontline workers have made for our city. This law will strengthen our fire department and help us keep New Yorkers safe. We thank our partners for these important bills and for working with us to move our city forward.”

“This important new law will help change the lives of justice-involved individuals through screening and connection to critical educational services,” said New York City Department of Correction (DOC) Commissioner Louis A. Molina. “By offering them the support they need for a better path forward, we will not only improve their future, we will also improve public safety across our city.”

“The bill will enable affected members of EMS to be eligible to take the exam just as they would have been if the exam had not been delayed by the pandemic,” said Fire Department of the City of New York Commissioner Laura Kavanagh. “We are grateful to the City Council and to our partners in the administration for working out a solution. The affected EMS members are already making valuable contributions to this city and the people of New York, and we value them as members of the Fire Department. The Fire Department recognizes that many EMS members may have joined the FDNY with the hope of one day becoming a firefighter and would be denied that opportunity due to a phenomenon that was out of the control of the members and of the city. Thanks to this bill, that will no longer be the case.”

Intro. 349-A requires DOC to provide screenings for dyslexia and appropriate interventions to individuals between 18 and 21 years old in custody who self-report that they do not have a high school diploma or its equivalent. This requirement would expand to the entire jail population by December 31, 2025. DOC will coordinate with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and city-contracted programs that serve justice-involved individuals to provide dyslexia interventions after individuals are released from custody and issue quarterly reports updating on its progress.

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Intro. 1190 creates a one-time waiver for EMS workers to apply to become firefighters even if they have passed the maximum age. Under existing local law, to become a firefighter for the FDNY, an individual must not have turned 29 years old before the date of the filing of their application for a civil service examination. This waiver would apply to the next promotion examination for EMS workers to become firefighters.

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