We hope you can join us at this event on March 27 to celebrate our collective work and to support the phenomenal work of Crossroads Fund!
Letter to Lightfoot: Expand the CPS Office of the Inspector General (OIG)
We're calling on Mayor Lightfoot and the Chicago Public Schools Board of Education to expand the authority of the CPS watchdog to investigate and report on racial inequities in our school system.
In a letter sent to the Mayor’s Office and the CPS Board of Ed, 25 organizations, including RYH, called on the Mayor to expand the responsibilities of the CPS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to incorporate independent public accountability to racial equity.
Currently, the CPS OIG lacks the express authority to investigate racial inequities in CPS. Given the recent resignation of IG Schuler, the 25 organizations believe this is a proactive opportunity to restructure the OIG to better align with the District’s focus on racial equity and the Office of Equity’s newly published equity framework. This is an opportunity to support our most vulnerable populations by increasing oversight and accountability in our public schools.
The groups signing on represent a diverse array of civic leaders -- leading good government reform groups, community-based nonprofits, racial justice, and civil rights organizations, philanthropic organizations, as well as prominent voices for education reform including former CPS principal Liz Dozier and author Eve Ewing. Many of the groups named served on the Mayor’s Transition Committees; six served in chairperson roles.
With the current IG leaving, what happens with CPS investigations into alleged sexual abuse?
The OIG's Sexual Allegations Unit investigates complaints regarding sexual misconduct which involve an adult affiliated with CPS (including employees, vendors, contractors and charters) where the victim is a CPS student and/or a minor.
OIG website here. The OIG investigates adult on student sexual misconduct.
The Office of Student Protections and Title IX (OSP) works to ensure the school district is free from sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual violence through three units: Coordination Unit (Responsible for coordinating the district’s response to all reports of sexual misconduct affecting students to ensure that every incident reported to OSP is fully addressed and resolved.); Investigations Unit (Responsible for leading investigations for the most serious or complex reports of sexual misconduct by students, and any employee misconduct related to those investigations.); and Compliance & Training Unit (Responsible for developing, implementing, and monitoring effective training and compliance programs that comply with Title IX and address the management of related data.)
OSP website here. The OSP investigates student on student sexual misconduct.
With the current CPS Inspector General (IG) leaving at the end of February, we are extremely concerned about who the Mayor will appoint as this vital watchdog of a system that is rife with scandal and ongoing misconduct. It is imperative that an independent-minded IG is hired who will act with integrity to counter a culture that has a history of protecting abusers and inconsistent adherence to policies designed to protect CPS students.
We implore the Mayor to appoint an IG who is committed to investigate malfeasance and abuse within CPS in a meaningful, thorough and professional manner. We also demand that the OIG be supported in their work and also encouraged to be independent and aggressive in their investigations while adhering to best practices in handling these investigations. The OIG should also continue the oversight of past sexual misconduct allegation investigations which are currently being evaluated - this MUST continue.
CPS has engagement, transparency and communication problems. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: parents, students, educators, and clinicians should be at the table to help inform the practices and protocols with respect to the district’s communications and response to sexual misconduct allegations as well as to help inform CPS on the supports needed to aid a school community during and after incidents. While protecting confidentiality, parents should still be informed of allegations of abuse and the steps the district is taking to protect students at any given school. Often, parents at the school level are left in the dark and only hear about illegal activity via rumors, then after a lawsuit has been filed or a news agency runs a story. This certainly undermines trust and confidence in CPS leadership. And, again, the CPS reporting process for sexual misconduct should be clearly evident on the CPS website homepage and it should be student and parent friendly. Further, parents, students, and educators should be at the table discussing implementation of preventative measures and methods for building supportive, strong school cultures.
And what about when a complaint about a teacher or a CPS bullying report goes nowhere? What are parents, students, and educators to do? These are questions we get way too often. Senn HS students took matters into their own hands yesterday.
Local School Council (LSC) news
- LSC Elections
- LSC Elections: Wed, April 22 (elementary schools) & Th, April 23 (high schools)
- LSC Candidate materials: CPS LSC Elections web page
TONIGHT… Live in the South Shore neighborhood?
- Join The Neighborhood Network Alliance in partnership with RYH as we host A Village Meeting for members of the South Shore community invested in improving education for the children of South Shore.
- Flyer | Register here | RYH event page here
- Th, Feb 13, 5:30-7:30pm, South Shore United Methodist Church, 7350 S Jeffery Blvd
- Childcare and dinner provided
- SATURDAY.... The Gathering- LSC Elections - Building LSC Power Together
- LSC Elections
Special education news
NEW! CPS Announces Universal Enrichment Remedies (UER) a/k/a “compensatory education” plan for students with disabilities who were harmed by its illegal special education practices in the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years. You should have received an email dated 2/12/2020 (which you can find here in English and Spanish). Basically, CPS will be sending a second letter to the parents of approximately 10,000 students who have been identified by CPS to be automatically eligible for extra services like outside tutoring, social/emotional programs, physical education programs, chrome books, extended school year, reimbursement for wrongly denied bus service, etc. Find WBEZ coverage here.
IMPORTANT: Even if you don’t receive a second letter from CPS, it does not mean your child is ineligible for UER. You can ask for a special meeting (an “SSCA meeting”) with CPS to discuss how you think your child was harmed and what CPS can do to make up for it. We will post further information about the special meeting process as soon as we get it from CPS so check back with us.
RYH Special Ed Tip of the Week:
Spread the word to other parents at your school, therapy centers, church, special recreation programs, etc. about the CPS UER plan and the possibility of getting your child with disabilities extra outside services and even compensation for wrongly-denied bus service.
CPS Community Connections Diverse Learner Expo is coming Sat, March 21, 2020, 10:00am - 2:00pm, at the CPS Garfield Park Office, 2651 W. Washington, Chicago. This event will be hosted by ODLSS in collaboration with The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, Starnet Illinois, and the CPS FACE Office. Downloadable flyers for this event can be found here in English and Spanish.
We need your Special Education questions! RYH is working on creating an online resource to help families navigate Special Ed in CPS and would love for you to fill out this survey: English | Spanish. Please share this survey with your contacts!
Be sure to sign up for the CPS “Diverse Learner” Mailing List here. CPS wants to improve communication and engagement with families who have children with special needs. You can find valuable training for parents through CPS Parent University and info on February 2020 classes can be found here in English and Spanish.
Joining CPS Diverse Learners Parent Advisory Council is a great way to grow your knowledge about your special education rights and talk with other parents, CPS Central Office Special Ed Administrators, Parent Support Specialists and the ISBE Monitors about any concerns you may have.
Healthy Schools Campaign is collecting testimonials from advocates, service providers, school administrators and health staff, families, students, etc. on the importance of having quality school health services, as part of the effort to support free care, but also in terms of expanding school health services in general. Please submit a testimonial and/or share with your networks across the state - it only takes two minutes to complete. Link here.
Family Resource Center on Disabilities (FRCD), Chicago’s Metropolitan Area Parent Training and Information Center can provide you with no cost Special Education advocacy help. All FRCD asks of parents who want an advocate to help them navigate the special education process is that you complete one of their know-your-rights trainings so you will be empowered with knowledge that will benefit your child.
CPS BOE Committees
You can find all the materials from the Jan 14 meeting of the Early Childhood Committee here.
You can find all the materials from the Dec 16 Education Workforce & Development Committee here.
SUFEO: Great, free resource for parents & students!
Stand Up For Each Other (SUFEO) Chicago, is an initiative led by Loyola law students to disrupt the school to prison pipeline and address a gap in legal services in Chicago. SUFEO’s goal is to reduce the use of suspensions and exclusionary practices and to keep young people engaged and safe in school. SUFEO advocates on behalf of PreK-12 students in suspension appeals. We have also recently expanded our representation to students in need of safety protections in school as a result of bullying. SUFEO’s services are completely free.
SUFEO website | hotline: 773.800.0338 | email: SUFEO-Chicago@luc.edu
WTTW: Aviation Training Returns to One Chicago Vocational High School Dunbar HS
Block Club Chicago: From Student To Principal: Chatham Leader Grew Her Roots At Same School She Now Runs Dixon ES
South Side Weekly: Experts at Play Mount Vernon ES
Block Club Chicago: 3 North Side Teachers With A Passion For Social Justice Nominated For Golden Apple Awards Jahn ES, Murphy ES, Ravenswood ES
In other news
WBEZ: Starting College Behind
Wed, Feb 19, 6:30 - 8pm
Chicago Teachers Union, 1901 W. Carroll Ave
Feb 24 - 28
Wed, Feb 26, 10:30am
CPS, 42 W. Madison
Online registration to speak or attend begins on Mon, Feb 24, 10:30am, cpsboe.org.
➡️ DePaul College of Education Winter Forum
CREATING AN INCLUSIVE CURRICULUM: TEACHING LGBTQ HISTORY IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Wed, Feb 26, 5:30 - 7:30pm
Lincoln Park Student Center, Room 120b, 2250 N. Sheffield
Register here. Registration is required.
Neighborhood Public Schools: The Heart of Our Communities
Saturday, March 28 & Sunday, March 29
DoubleTree by Hilton Philadelphia - Center City
237 S. Broad St, Philadelphia, PA
Give CPS feedback
Upcoming CPS proposed policy and rule changes are open for public comment (direct link)