This Week in Ed 2.13.20: Thoughts on the future CPS Inspector General...

 

We are truly honored to receive the Ron Sable Award for Activism from Crossroads Fund!  We will receive the award at their annual benefit, Seeds of Change.

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!

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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.

Read the letter here | Sign a petition in support of the letter here | RYH web page here

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.

Find more information on the sexual misconduct allegation complaint procedure here.

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. 

Chalkbeat Chicago: Lincoln Park High allegations test Chicago’s new protocol for investigating sexual misconduct complaints

Sun-Times: Curie parents demand answers about removal of basketball coach Mike Oliver

Chalkbeat Chicago: Frustrated Lincoln Park High School council calls for meeting with mayor, more transparency from Chicago Public Schools

Sun-Times: 2 staffers, volunteer coach removed from Mather High School amid misconduct allegations

Sun-Times: CPS failed to protect Lincoln Park H.S. student from sex assault, lawsuit alleges

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. 

Block Club Chicago: CPS Students Protest After Teacher Allegedly Said ‘Go Back To Your Country’ To Girl Sitting Out Anthem

 

Local School Council (LSC) news

 

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 hereCPS 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.

The School Funding meetings are over for now. You can find the slides from the presentation here. Direct links to slides: English | Spanish

 

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

SUFEO flyer for parents | SUFEO flyer for orgs & advocates

 

CPSuccess!

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

WBEZ: CPS To Compensate Special Education Students Illegally Denied Services

Chicago Tribune: Critics warn school shooter drills may be doing more harm than good: ‘They’re becoming more perverse and obscene’

NPR: 2 Big Teachers Unions Call For Rethinking Student Involvement In Lockdown Drills

WTTW: New Bill Could Give Illinois Students Time Off to Address Mental Health Issues

Chalkbeat Chicago: Chicago is revisiting school funding. Here’s what 7 parents and educators would prioritize if they were in charge 

 

Upcoming events

➡️ Diane Ravitch’s Book Tour for Slaying Goliath

Wed, Feb 19, 6:30 - 8pm

Chicago Teachers Union, 1901 W. Carroll Ave

Register here

➡️ Public Schools Week!

Feb 24 - 28

➡️ Monthly meeting of the CPS Board of Education

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.

➡️ Network for Public Education / Network for Public Education Action 2020 Conference 

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

CPS School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) Survey (direct link to SQRP web page; direct link to surveys: English; Spanish)

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