Six months after enumerating how Chicago Public Schools has mishandled the education of special-needs students, the Illinois State Board of Education has issued a letter to parents detailing shortcomings in the program and how parents may seek redress.
The school district will mail the state board’s letter to parents, and hand it out next week during report card pickup, state education board spokeswoman Jackie Matthews said. The letter is posted in Spanish and English on both the district and state websites. You can also read it at the end of this post.
The state probe, launched last fall, found Chicago schools violated students’ rights by routinely delaying and denying services, such as speech and occupational therapy, busing, classroom aides, and placement in specialized outside schools.
The letter encourages parents with questions to contact an independent monitor the state appointed to oversee reforms for three years.
It’s not clear why the state took so long to inform parents about the investigation’s findings or their options. Parents have been complaining they hadn’t heard from school officials about improvements.
In early October, Matthews said that the state was finalizing its letter to parents.
Now the state is working with the district and parent advocacy groups to identify students whose rights were violated and may be eligible for measures “to make these students whole,” as the letter puts it.
It advises parents, “if you believe that your child was harmed by the systemic violations identified in the public inquiry, you may have the right to file for due process or file a complaint with ISBE’s special education division.”
To improve special education services, the letter notes, the state has been training district employees about the investigation, how procedures will change, and their roles and responsibilities in special education.
The state and district are training parents about their rights, including a list of low-cost legal providers who can help parents navigate the legal process.
Read the letter below.