Open Letter to Illinois State Board of Education

This morning, a coalition of Chicago special education advocates appeared before the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to testify on the state of education for students with disabilities in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). The coalition requested that ISBE use its powers to conduct an investigation of education for students with disabilities in CPS, including but not limited to issues raised in recent WBEZ reports about CPS' special education manual and racial disparities for students of color with disabilities. A brief summary of some of the additional points raised by the advocates: —The utilization of blocks in CPS' electronic IEP form, which have led to notable decreases in the provision of certain IEP services within CPS —Overly burdensome data collection and documentation requirements on special education teachers and related service providers, which can amount to the systematic denial of FAPE for numerous CPS students —The problem of lumping special education and general education services into a school–based zero–sum funding competition with one another, creating disincentives for adding needed services to IEPs —The consolidation of numerous special education budget lines into larger buckets that obscure its allocation of special education funds —Excessive significant restrictions on transportation services that have required interventions from numerous disability rights and/or early childhood education advocacy agencies  Advocates are of the opinion that at this time, an transparent investigation that includes public input is necessary to gain a clear view on the status of education for students with disabilities in CPS. The organizations making this request to ISBE include:Access Living Shriver Center on Poverty Law  Chicago Principals and Administrators Association Chicago Teachers Union Parents 4 Teachers Ounce of Prevention Fund Chicago Medical–Legal Partnership for Children Raise Your Hand for IL Public Education LAF  Equip For Equality Potter and Bolanos, LLC Matt Cohen and Associates19th Ward Parents for Special Education Thank you to all our partners on this effort so far, and we will continue to advocate on this front. We hope that ISBE will take action.