CPS Stripped of Control over Special Education
This week, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) determined that Chicago Public Schools must allow state oversight of special education program. This decision came after a state investigation found that cuts made to programs and services for diverse learners violated federal special education laws.
When Chicago Public Schools decided to co-mingle both general education and special education into a single allocation in 2016, I stood with Local School Council members from our schools and warned that this decision would result in making the money spent more difficult to track and result in less transparency surrounding CPS’ decisions.
In January 2017, CPS back peddled their decision to co-mingle funds, and instead announced that they would determine individualized education programs (IEPs) based on school-by-school analyses, leading to disparities in how funds were allocated and services were provided. The negligent decisions have resulted in some students falling years behind.
In October 2017, I stood with fellow members of the Progressive Caucus to demand that then-CPS CEO Forrest Claypool testify before the City Council after a WBEZ investigation discovered plans among CPS leadership to reduce programs, services, and support for special needs students.
For two years, CPS has mismanaged its special education programs and has made opaque cuts to funding and services. ISBE’s decision to strip CPS of its autonomy in this area should come as no surprise after multiple warnings from LSC members, the Chicago Teachers Union, parents, and members of the Progressive Caucus.
This is further evidence that Chicago is long overdue for an elected school board, something I have advocated for since I was first elected in 2011. Our children’s education cannot continue to be an afterthought. Our students and taxpayers deserve an elected school board to ensure more transparency on these crucial decisions.