Illinois State Board of Education: Letter Regarding Public Inquiry into Special Education Practices at CPS
Dear CPS Staff, Parents and Families:
We hope that the first two months of the school year have been successful in your homes and classrooms, and that you have settled into your back-to-school routine. We wanted to take this opportunity to share the findings of an investigation that the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) conducted into the special education policies and practices of Chicago Public Schools, and the corrective action that ISBE will be putting into place over the next three school years.
The Public Inquiry
The investigation referenced above was called the Public Inquiry into Special Education Practices at CPS, and it was conducted by a team of three special education attorneys. All information regarding the Public Inquiry can be found on the ISBE website. The Public Inquiry Team found that CPS engaged in policies, procedures, or practices that were inconsistent with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2001 (IDEA), the federal law that governs special education and provides protections to students with disabilities.. As a result, an 11-page Corrective Action Report was adopted by ISBE in May of 2018. The Corrective Action Report describes ISBE’s findings that CPS violated the law by implementingpolicies and procedures related to special education budgeting, the computerized IEP system, and data collection requirements. As a result of these violations, families may have been improperly denied transportation, paraprofessional (SECA / special education classroom assistant) support, therapeutic day school placements, extended school year (ESY / summer school for students with disabilities) , eligibility for a specific learning disability, or other educational services.
The ISBE Appointed CPS Monitor
The Corrective Action Plan requires that ISBE assign a Monitor to oversee the Corrective Action Report and serve as a liaison between ISBE and CPS regarding special education. Both parents and CPS staff can reach out to the ISBE Monitor by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting the Monitor’s website at https://www.isbe.net/Pages/ISBE-Monitor.aspx. The Monitor can answer questions for parents andstaff and investigate concerns. However, parents who have disputes with CPS regarding their child’s IEP should follow ISBE’s dispute resolution procedures, such as filing due process or filing a complaint. Information regarding dispute resolution can be found here. Nothing the Monitor does will change or interfere with a Parent’s Procedural Safeguards. ISBE strongly encourages the CPS community to contact the ISBE Monitor when concerns arise. Neither CPS nor ISBE can address concerns unless we know about them.
Per the Corrective Action Plan, this school year will include the following action items, events, and resources:
ISBE began training staff regarding the Public Inquiry at the beginning of the school year. More training will occur in November. The materials for the staff training can be found at https://www.isbe.net/Documents/ISBE-CPS-Teacher-Training-201808.pdf.
Student Specific Corrective Action Per the Public Inquiry
Since the Public Inquiry reviewed and found that there were problems occurring throughout the systemof special education at CPS, the focus now in the Corrective Action Plan requires a closer look at exactlywhich students were harmed by CPS’ system and determine how to make these students whole. ISBE ispartnering with CPS and Parent Advocacy organizations to develop a way to identify students who may be eligible for Student Specific Corrective Action. We will distribute more information to the CPS community when that system is developed. In the meantime, if you believe that your child was harmed by the systemic violations identified in the Public Inquiry, you may have the right to file for due processor file a complaint with ISBE’s special education division.
The findings of the Public Inquiry provide an opportunity to partner with CPS to ensure that students with disabilities receive a high-quality education tailored to their individual needs. The Corrective Action Plan has identified many changes that are needed for that to happen. We recognize that change does not happen overnight. For that reason, ISBE is committed to remaining involved at CPS for at least the next three school years. We hope our involvement will assist CPS in developing a system of special education that meets the high expectations of the state and the CPS community.
Stephanie E. Jones
Assistant General Counsel and ISBE Monitor
Download the letter in English or Spanish
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