Director of Communications
Chicago – This morning, a coalition of Chicago special education advocates appeared before the Illinois State Board of Education 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.
The full letter is below:
To Dr. Tony Smith, State Superintendent of Education, James Meeks, Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education, and the Members of the Illinois State Board of Education:
We the undersigned organizations and individuals are agreed on the need for the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to utilize its authority under the Illinois School Code and SEC. 616 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act along with its related regulations to intervene with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Special Education program. Specifically we ask that ISBE investigate all the findings made by a report that appeared on WBEZ radio in Chicago on its special education program.
Collectively we are in agreement with the findings of the WBEZ report and in fundamental disagreement with the Chicago Public School’s attempted refutation of that report. We would be happy to discuss our views on those issues with any investigator appointed by ISBE in relationship to this matter.
We the undersigned organizations and individuals are also agreed on the following points and believe they should be part of a systematic and transparent investigation of the CPS special education program by ISBE:
We believe the situation may be so egregious that ISBE may be required following an investigation to appoint an outside expert to facilitate corrective action in relationship to the CPS special education program. It should be expected that these recommendations may and most likely will include significant changes in CPS special education practices. Many of these changes will likely involve a reordering of budget priorities. Rejection of an outside expert’s recommendations by CPS solely on the basis of finances should not be acceptable. All findings by any ISBE investigation should be made public.
Initial list of Endorsers: 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 Associates, and 19th Ward Parents for Special Education.