The CPS unelected Board of Ed met on Wednesday, September 26, 2018. Raise Your Hand was there, speaking and live tweeting. You can read prepared statements below.
You can find a playlist of 3 videos from the meeting here: Mary Hughes on special education issues, Wendy Katten on nursing issues, and Liz Keenan's (ODLSS Chief) response to the statements.
RYH live tweet thread links: Four new charter schools looking to open in 2019-20, 45 minute data presentation- CPS slides, Alderman Dowell, King, Daley Thompson and Solis speak in support of the new boundaries for the new South Loop HS, and public comment thread.
Mary Hughes, Volunteer Parent Advocate, 19th Ward Parents for Special Education; Raise Your Hand Board Member
My name is Mary Hughes. I am a Volunteer Parent Advocate with 19th Ward Parents for Special Education and Raise Your Hand. I am here on the part of the larger Advocate Group who asked ISBE to investigate CPS for systemic violation of student special education rights. As you know, CPS did not request ISBE’s investigation and ISBE found CPS in violation of special education law and installed a State Monitor to oversee CPS’ special education department. While we are relieved that the computerized IEP system has been reprogrammed to remove blocks that allowed CPS to delay and deny services and district representative can no longer override IEP Team decisions, CPS has not directly communicated to parents about the ISBE findings and subsequent changes outside of Parent University workshops and the reconvened Parent Advisory Committee. We have been told that ISBE and CPS haven’t sent out this notification letter because they are still working out the guidance surrounding compensatory services. Yet, there are IEP meetings happening right now and most parents have no idea that CPS may have violated their children’s special education rights or that their children could be eligible for compensatory services in order to make up for that violation. Dr. Jackson, as a parent of 4 CPS students, I regularly receive direct communication from you via email and phone. I ask that you immediately share the factual specifics of ISBE’s findings and remedies with every parent and guardian within Chicago Public Schools along with notice that compensatory guidance is in the pipeline. Parents cannot properly advocate for their children unless they have been informed that their children’s rights may have been violated. Thank you.
Wendy Katten, Raise Your Hand's Strategy Director; Raise Your Hand Action's Co Director
My son went to CPS through 8th grade, and I had hoped never to speak here after I moved last summer. But when a recent story came out by the Sun-Times attributing nursing problems at CPS to the recent background check issue, my phone started blowing up from parents in the Type 1 diabetes community who were upset that the story did not accurately convey the depth of problems around medical compliance and safety at the district.
From 2008 to 2016, I wrote to every Chief of Special Ed copying a host of others, begging for a meeting to discuss the unsafe use of temp agency to care for kids with chronic conditions. I have some of that correspondence in this folder.
While my son had a stellar academic experience at CPS, there were serious issues around his health needs being met. And while we had a solid 504 plan on paper and a nurse technically assigned, it was via a rotating crop of often untrained unreliable people. My son spent days waiting for temps. who never showed up, sometimes sitting in the cafeteria wondering if he should eat or not because no one had given him his insulin, going dangerously low a few times because nurses didn’t follow orders, being double dosed once. By fifth grade, my son had probably seen 40 different temps, and he begged me to never have another one visit his classroom because it was so stressful for him to have to assess whether they were capable of keeping him safe.
The parents reaching out to me now share the same stories, of having a nurse on paper, but of missing work, or even having to quit work, because certified nurses are so scarce, and grave errors are being made that put their kid’s life at risk.
After the Sun-Times shared a memo telling some nurses to cut minutes and transfer coverage for kids with chronic conditions, CPS sent out a retraction, but parents need to be vigilant when they are asked to prematurely sign a 504 asking them to have their child self-manage. Parents were already living with chaos and uncertainty about their kids safety.
Two days ago RYH met with CPS officials to talk about the need for major systems change, and to discuss that memo that went out. We are happy CPS wants to meet with parents on this, as parents have the background and lived realty on the dangers of CPS’ current practices and have already started sharing solutions that other districts use to keep kids safe.
Ultimately though, our question to you is: What is the acceptable risk level to this district when it comes to the health needs of children? We look forward to working with you on this challenging but not insurmountable problem.
Press coverage from the meeting: