RYH Statements at the July 2019 Unelected CPS Board of Ed Meeting

This new, Lightfoot appointed CPS Board of Education is implementing all sorts of changes to bring greater transparency! We attended and spoke at the July 24, 2019 meeting. You can see our prepared statements below. Our thread of live tweets is here. You can find press coverage of the meeting far below.

Several notable changes to the CPS BOE meetings:

1) It is now live streamed! Go to www.cpsboe.org and click the button which will take you to the CPS YouTube channel. Here's a direct link to a video of the entire July 2019 meeting.

2) The agenda has been rearranged so Public Participation is towards the beginning of the meeting. You can see July's agenda here.

3) On the agenda for approval and via Chalkbeat ChicagoChicago school board considers allowing a month of public review and comment before it votes.

4) New BOE committees have been created: Early Childhood Education; Whole Child; and Workforce Development and Equity.

5) You can provide feedback on the CPS Public Participation Registration Process here

6) Food and drink are now allowed in the lobby area (but not the board room.)


Jennie Biggs, CPS parent and RYH Communications & Outreach Director

Watch video of Jennie's statement here

Good morning. Thank you for live streaming. Thank you for the changes to the meeting format, especially the public discussion of agenda items before voting. 

Vote yes on allowing a month for public review and comments before taking a vote on proposed changes to CPS policies. 

Something else to consider: a neutral 3rd party to answer procedural questions and to answer questions on the item to be voted on and its finer details. This became apparent during the SQRP discussion and vote last month.

Blocks Together and Raise Your Hand hosted an event- Schools as Anchors: Communities Planning for Their Schools. We learned about best practices in planning for school facilities AND programming from local experts and from national expert Mary Filardo of the 21st Century School Fund

In 2018 a new state law mandated planning for vacant and under enrolled schools. Through workshops parents & community members learned best practices for: the joint use of buildings; proposing new attendance boundaries; developing new programs to recruit students; and potential school mergers.

A state law passed in 2011 requires CPS to create and implement a community informed Educational Facilities Master Plan or EFMP every 5 years. We are completing year 1 of the 2018 EFMP. There are specifications in the law about a timeline and it mandates community engagement to ensure that school communities have a say in the planning for their schools. The EFMP is required by law, the Annual Regional Analysis or ARA is not and is unnecessary.

Questions we have regarding School Resources Officers or SROs:

  • If LSCs will be involved in the decision making process:
    • How will this work? 
    • What is the timeline? 
    • Will there be special meetings for LSCs? 
    • What happens if the LSC is an ALSC?
  • If a school elects to NOT have SROs:
    • will they get comparable resources to spend on alternate staffing or programming?
  • When will you be hosting meetings on the roles and necessity of social workers in our schools? 
    • And hiring more? 
    • And how can LSCs and principals get more social workers?
  • We’re really concerned about the “School Safety Rating” that CPS may or may not be implementing soon for individual schools- it’s come up at BOE meetings before.
    • Will the presence or absence of a SRO factor into whatever this rating policy is?
    • And won’t a rating policy impact or influence the decision making process? 

Thank you.


Mary Fahey Hughes, CPS parent and RYH Parent Liaison for Special Education

Watch video of Mary's statement here

Hello new CPS Board Members and welcome. With all of you on this Board, I am hopeful for the future of CPS special ed. 

My name is Mary Hughes, Special Ed parent liaison with Raise Your Hand and I want to thank you for posting the Special Ed Procedural Manual in multiple languages on the cps website.  Thank you also to Dr. Smith for helping to facilitate the opening of a new cluster classroom in the 19th Ward where there was clearly a need.  

I’m here  to talk about CPS’ delays surrounding the creation and release of a Student Specific Corrective Action (SSCA) which was an ISBE recommendation, Children with special needs who experienced cuts and delays to needed services as a result of CPS’s illegal systemic special education cuts have yet to be made whole and, though we were promised a plan in September of 2018 and again in June 2019 and there is still no plan in place and little meaningful collaboration with the Advocate Group to assist with what this SSCA plan could look like

It is our understanding that CPS has identified approximately 12,000 students who had services CUT in 1 or more of 3 areas that are the subject of ISBE’s findings - busing, paraprofessional support and Extended School Year.

CPS has yet to identify how many children had services denied as a result of CPS’ refusal to recognize specific learning disabilities for an IEP and Therapeutic Day School placement.  

In addition, CPS has yet to identify all the children who had services in all 5 areas listed above illegally denied.

We are coming up on 3 years since these illegal special ed cuts harmed our kids with special needs and they continue to be harmed.  Y’know, I see how quickly CPS can act when they want to invest in a new curriculum, yet there is little urgency to put an SSCA plan in place.  3 years of inadequate services can be devastating for students with special needs. I ask you for your leadership in making students who have been harmed by CPS’ illegal actions whole.

I also want to say to please prioritize special education and class size in the upcoming teachers contract.  Our teachers’ work environment is our children’s learning environment and we need to create a supportive, rather than an undermining work environment for sped teachers if we have any chance to draw new sped teachers and fill sped vacancies. 


Press coverage of the meeting

Sun-TimesNew CPS school board targets early childhood education, teacher diversity with new committees

Chicago TribuneCPS investigating hundreds of sexual misconduct claims against staff, many involving security guards; 23 employees fired

WBEZ: Chicago School Security Guards Accused Of Sexual Misbehavior At High Rates

Sun-TimesCPS watchdog received nearly 3 sexual misconduct allegations against adults per school day last school year

Chalkbeat ChicagoChicago recruits outside firm to help it tackle gender, racial gaps in advanced courses

Chalkbeat ChicagoDo metal detectors keep schools safe? Chicago school board wades into debate.

Chalkbeat ChicagoAmid tense contract negotiations, Chicago board extends union-backed community schools for a year

Chicago TribuneWhat’s wrong with a Chicago public high school teaching transcendental meditation? Plenty, critics claim.