Current Issue

Drugs in schools

Most drug violations in CPS involve an ounce or less of marijuana. Schools are quick to call police, yet rarely have the resources to offer education, counseling or other non-punitive help to students.

special education

February 05, 2014

The state is running out of money to pay for special education students sent to residential therapeutic programs, and local districts could be stuck with the bill.

January 17, 2014

UPDATE: As of Tuesday Jan. 21, the Illinois State Board of Education has pulled the issue of special education class size rules from its agenda.

November 21, 2013

The difficult battle of finding a good school for children with autism or other severe cognitive disabilities is usually waged behind the scenes, by moms and dads sitting in small conference rooms with social workers and other specialists.

But last fall, some parents were forced to go public after CPS announced the impending shutdown of 49 schools, a third of which had what are called special education cluster programs—special, separate programs for children with serious disabilities.

March 19, 2013

Josephine Norwood’s children have undergone multiple school closings and forced transfers in their time at Chicago Public Schools. But when Norwood got wind that her autistic son’s current school was on the final list of schools being considered for closure, it was just too much to take.

The program her son is in has already been moved two times because of school actions. Now, it is at McClellan, a small school in Bridgeport.

February 27, 2013

Special education advocates are up in arms about a state proposal to eliminate class size caps for special education rooms and let districts decide what percentage of a “general education” class can be students with disabilities.The rule changes would leave the state without maximum class sizes based on a child’s disability for the first time since 1975.

February 04, 2013

On the first floor of Brown Elementary School is a room with colorful mats on the walls, a ball pit and calming low-intensity lights.

Principal Kenya Sadler proudly shows off this new feature of her school. Sadler raised private money to install it because she thought the specially designed environment would benefit the children in her schools’ two classes for children with autism.

May 07, 2012

When CPS unveiled its new teacher evaluation system, one question was still unanswered: How would the new evaluations—which by law must take student test scores into account—affect special education students and their teachers?

April 04, 2012

After her son, Darion, was attacked by Fenger High School football players who accused him of stealing flip flops, Patricia Jones decided that he could not safely return to the rough school on the far South Side.

Diagnosed with both bipolar and explosive intermittent disorder, Darion was liable to lash out. The players, too, were out to get him again, Jones felt.

April 04, 2012

In its first two years, Hope Institute Learning Academy was roiled by the departure of two principals, more than half the school’s first cadre of staff and a private education management company.

The Academy, which aims to be a model for the inclusion of students with special needs, lost a legal complaint filed by parents who accused Hope of failing to provide legally required special education services for their children, raising questions about whether the school can achieve its goal.

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