Improving Parent Involvement in CPS Special Education

Chicago Public Schools Bill

This week, parents of Chicago Public Schools students with special needs won a significant victory: On August 20th, Gov. Rauner signed SB 454.

This past May, Legal Council collaborated with Rep. Fred Crespo to pass an amendment to SB 454, amending the Illinois school code. This amendment strengthens the Chicago Public Schools special education process by allowing parents to become equal team members in the involvement of their child’s education plan. On May 31st the bill passed both the House and the Senate.

Chicago Public Schools have been in hot water: This bill follows a lengthy Illinois State Board of Education investigation into Chicago Public Schools’ special education practices. Back in October 2017, a report from WBEZ found that CPS overhauled special education and relied on a “secret” set of guidelines ““that resulted in limiting services for special education students, services like busing, one-on-one aides, and summer school.” Since this report, Legal Council has led groups of parents, students, and advocates in calling for the State Board investigation, in collecting independent research on the delays and denials in services, and in proposing solutions to the public inquiry team. With the signing of SB 454–now Public Act 100-0993–Legal Council continues its quest to ensure CPS is held accountable for its actions.

More than 2,200 people responded to a survey produced by Legal Council and other advocates; respondents include teachers, parents, and school administrators.

  • 45% of all survey respondents reported cases where students’ required aides were denied, due to “insufficient student data,” or a representative did not attend a meeting to finalize the student’s Individualized Education Plan–which is a violation of federal law.
  • 95% of teachers and more than 90% of administrators claimed they did not receive training on a new “revised” CPS Special Education manual, contrary to statements from former-CEO Forrest Claypool
  • 46% of parents stated their child was not receiving the services as outlined in their IEP in this school year
  • In the same question of whether services were being provided to their child, 22% of parents said they were unsure.

With the help of the voices of parents, students, and teachers, Legal Council children & family advocates and Rep. Crespo helped current and future families of Special Education students.

For updates on other advocacy initiatives and to learn how you can help protect care and services in Illinois, check back in on our blog and follow us on Twitter @thelegalcouncil.

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