RYH Statements from the April 2018 Unelected BOE Meeting

Two RYH staff members spoke at the April 2018 unelected CPS Board of Education meeting. Their statements are below. We've also included other statements of interest. One statement is about the recent LSC election, the next is about the privatized nursing contract and its impact on CPS students who require a high level of care by a nurse, and the last is about the ISBE investigation into CPS special education and the need for certain remedies that the Advocates group is demanding.

Jennie Biggs, CPS Parent, RYH Communications Director


When you privatize pieces of the public good, you provide no cost-benefit analysis- instead you assure us that the move will be cost-neutral and “more efficient.” Like nursing, custodial management, and other services that have been privatized at CPS, we as parents on the ground know the overall negative effect outsourcing has on school culture and the ability to provide cohesive services. When the principal is taken out of the mix, communication becomes more difficult, relationships in the building often suffer, and services are oh so much worse. And we now have further proof of this thanks to the investigation of Lauren FitzPatrick of the Sun-Times.


We appreciate the reporters in this room who are LISTENING and not ignoring or brushing off the common topics & themes brought here month after month.


By HEARING US and so many others you have recently uncovered both the special ed delays and denials, AND the fact that, yes, it’s true what we have been reporting here month after month since September 2014- our schools ARE filthier than ever!


Just like with the special ed service examples, you, unelected board, would call us “factually inaccurate” and call up someone from the Facilities Department to tell us what we were saying wasn’t true because the schools had passed inspections & were at hospital level cleanliness.


Luckily, FitzPatrick wondered why people at the school level would have a different experience than the spreadsheet. Thanks to her investigation, we now know you cheated on the inspections- all while students were learning, teachers were teaching, and taxpayers were footing the bill. You owe all the parents, students, educators, AND custodians who stood before you pleading for more custodial staff, supplies, and equipment like mops & brooms, an apology.


Further, you still owe a cost-benefit analysis of the entire privatized custodial management contract (with extra costs included) as well as one for the Integrated Facilities Management contract to the taxpayers of Chicago. Show us that by privatizing facilities management it will be “cost neutral”. We don’t believe this and, given your track record, are pretty confident this will cost taxpayers more money and cause our schools to fall into further disrepair.  


Stop the privatization and defend the public good.


Joy Clendenning, CPS Parent, RYH Managing Director

You can watch Joy's statement during the BOE meeting here. Joy also submit the statement below on April 26 to CEO Jackson and to Susan Narrajos, BOE Secretary, with an ask to please forward on to all the unelected BOE members.

To whom it may concern,

I would like to submit this testimony which I did not read in its entirety at the CPS BOE meeting on April 25, 2018, because before public participation started some issues came up which I then felt I had to address. Thank you in advance for reading these comments on the budgets which principals received last week.

Joy Clendenning


Last week was a big week with Local School Council Elections and the release of ISBE’s findings about special education practices in Chicago Public Schools. In addition, Principals received their budgets.


We’ve had five years of brutal budget cuts totalling over $400 Million. In the last 5 years of my 16 years as a CPS parent experiencing the impact of school budgets, the annual budget process has been a nightmare of new cuts and new budgets every 6 months with:

  • delayed budgets
  • impossibile timelines
  • terrible trade-offs


There is a general lack of trust in those who have the fiduciary responsibility for our public school system and the 100,000’s of children in it. We’re glad we received budgets in April; we’re glad that we are not facing more huge cuts; but the public needs to remember -- this is how it should be -- this is what we should expect -- schools should get their budgets in April and we should not face cuts every year. We’re starting to hear from elected LSC members, who are the ones who see the actual budgets; some initial responses include:

  • Despite the glowing news from central office our budget does not replace the years of cuts and teacher position reductions -- we’re not getting anything back.”
  • “We learned things are going to be tight.”
  • “The increase in SBB is offset by reductions in other funds ”


There is a slight increase in the student based budgeting amount but it is still not nearly enough and SBB is a delusional way to effectively fund schools. We remember quota-based budgets; that approach was better. Parents know that schools thrive with a mix of experienced, mid-career, and new teachers and that principals should be able to hire the best candidates for the jobs -- we need schools to be funded in a way that allows principals to do this.


Finally, whether you were here or not, you now represent CPS and you owe an apology to students, parents, teachers, staff, and community who have come to these meetings, month after month, year after year, to raise the issue of cleanliness of schools and to raise special education issues. They have been treated badly at these board meetings and deserve an apology.


Andrea Tolzmann, CPS Parent, RYH board member

Hello, my name is Andrea Tolzmann and I am an LSC member at Pulaski International School. Did you know that CPS is exempt from the Illinois Election Code that mandates that on paper ballots a cross mark be made, yet CPS still chooses to enforce this rule in LSC elections? As a result, at every LSC election many ballots are “spoiled” and those votes are not counted. With such small vote counts determining these elections, every vote should count if the mark can be distinguished. A check mark is just as clear as a cross mark, yet CPS chooses to only recognize cross marks, and then only those marks made within the boundaries of the printed box. 
Illinois Election Code, (10 ILCS 5/2A-1) reads “However, this Code shall not apply to elections for officers or public questions of local school councils established pursuant to Chapter 34 of the School Code, …” Legal precedent was even set in a 1990 case (Pullen v. Mulligan), “that marks other than a cross should be accepted in LSC elections.” 
So why does CPS continue to require X-only marks on LSC election ballots when state election code does not require it? It could be argued that this is a way individual schools can help control their election outcomes. Each school has election judges, and often those judges are associated with the school community where they are judging. All judges receive the same training, but the implementation on the job varies greatly between each individual.
My own experience at last week’s election was that the election judges did not ask me for any form of identification and the judges offered no instruction to me on how to properly mark the ballot. However, the judges did instruct another parent how to properly mark the ballot without prompting. It was at the discretion of the election judges to decide who to educate on successful voting technique versus who was on their own to figure it out. 
Many LSC members have been poll watchers at past LSC elections and watched in frustration as 10% or more of their school’s ballots were set aside uncounted. It is also known that schools whose election judges instruct ALL voters have very few spoiled ballots to be discarded. In 2012, the Office of Local School Council Relations said that people should not be worried about schools with 10% of ballots being discarded because the number is usually higher -- 40% at one school! These votes are clear and discernible, but the votes are not being counted because of the marks used. Yet CPS is authorized to set the rules for the elections and can choose to allow any or all marks for voting, according to Illinois Election Code. 
This is something this Board can fix. This is something this Board has two years to address and to make changes that will equally benefit all CPS schools and voters. This does not require approval from the State Legislature like an Elected Representative School Board will. This is in your hands to ensure that every person who legally votes in an LSC election is counted. Will you help us do this?


Myra Young, CPS Parent

Good afternoon,
My name is Myra Young. I am parent to a diverse learner at Ogden International School. My daughter is on mechanical life support and requires 24 hour care. Ventilator trained nurses monitor, and perform required medical treatments and medical interventions throughout the day and night. My daughter is ventilator dependent, tube fed, non-ambulatory, non-verbal, and 100% dependent for all daily activities and care. She is also a straight A student, our school's spelling bee champion, and a voracious learner. 
Because of the lack of school nursing, I have been attending school with my daughter 3 days a week since January 22nd. At that time, I made contact with RCM, the CPS contracted nursing agency, to inform them of our requisite. Nothing has been resolved nor have they been responsive to our needs. This is negligent and in direct violation of our legally binding IEP which states the need of daily nursing coverage. If I am unable to go, she cannot attend, which interrupts her education. The lack of nursing also affects my ability to go to work. 
Contracting with a singular agency is not appropriate for this demographic. There needs to be options and flexibility. Also, pay rates should be dependent on complexity and level of care. It is more difficult to staff children that are ventilator dependent. A higher pay rate should accompany the higher level of care to encourage nursing coverage. Nurses working with students that require a higher level of care are receiving the same compensation as those with much less complexity and liability. That does not encourage coverage of those students that have the most need.
Students already contracted with an agency for home care should also be allowed to their home care agency to contract with Cps individually.  This would ensure consistency of care and better chances of coverage. 
Comprehensive training per student/patient should be a requirement through all agencies to limit liability and procure safety. 
Exclusive contracts limit flexibility. It is not working in this population's interests and puts CPS in violation of federally mandates laws. 


Jen Jones, CPS Parent, RYH Action board member


Good afternoon, I’m Jennifer Jones, CPS Parent

We are at a crossroads for special education and I’m asking that you ensure CPS accountability. The special ed violations outlined in the ISBE investigation findings happened under board watch and in order to effectively move forward there is much work to do.

First, you must ensure that our new leadership’s best intentions are met. Dr. Jackson has indicated she is not in favor of an independent special education monitor. Based on the the infractions confirmed by city and state inquiries, we need an independent monitor to best guarantee compliance and transparency.

Secondly, additional resources are needed to make special education whole. $29 million in new funding and 65 new hires will not offset previous devastating cuts. Additionally, we need commitment to greatly improve clinician to student ratios. This is a critical missing piece of the narrative.

Third, several children I’ve recently advocated for were regularly receiving misconduct reports, recess suspensions, and denied classroom rewards to “manage behavior”. This was not appropriate nor helpful. Time and again, special ed evaluations aren’t happening until parents formally request them. Teachers and administrators need to be empowered to refer students for special ed evaluation.

Lastly, I encourage you to stay on the pulse of reinstated CPS Sped Parent Advisory Council (PAC). I was approved as representative for my network and our first meeting is tomorrow night. There are transparency concerns about the lottery used to select representatives. I believe that every parent who wishes to participate in the Sped PAC should be welcome to do so. Dr. Keenan has committed to discuss our concerns and I hope you will review the outcome and stay apprised about the Special Ed PAC.

Thank you.