Bus Aides Where Special Ed Aides Used To Be?

A kind reader sent in the attached PDF listing the total number of special education cuts from last year in CPS at 750 (170 teachers and 580 paraprofessionals) and listing several ways for parents (or teachers) to tell if children are getting the services they are supposed to get under law. 

According to the letter, "In some schools, the staff
has told parents that one-on-one services are no longer available, while these
services are continuing to be provided in other schools...Some students who have
previously received a full time aide (1500 minutes) have seen a decrease in the number of
minutes that are written into the IEP, or the IEP does not indicate the number of minutes for
paraprofessional support...Some students who have previously had
instructional aides are now being assigned less-qualified paraprofessionals (for example,
child welfare attendants or bus aides)."

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  • Well those teachers who have been complaining about the cuts have some sort of a way to more formally complain. But the truth of the matter is that many low income CPS parents have no idea when their disabled children are not recieving appropriate services due to staffing reductions. Many parents will complain to teachers, case managers, or principals who are effectively powerless to secure the services these students need because of the CPS ratio driven service provision system.

    It is going to be up to teachers to contact parents who are not informed to get them to complain. Would this constitute an act of insubordination? Based on what some principals have done to special education teachers who have openly advocated for kids, the answer is yes. In other cases principals know the score and know that the only way to get appropriate services for students with disabilities is to get parents to complain or file due process, and have looked the other way. One of these pricipals who would quietly encourage parents to file due process to protect their children is now a CPS central office administrator and she must keep her mouth shut.

    Now I would love for Mr. Rocks the CPS general counsel to write back to this website and say that no teacher, aide, case, manager, or principal who would inform a parent of a special needs child that their child is not recieving IEP delinated services would be protected by his office, the inspector general's office, the court monitor's office,and the US federal court, but I doubt that will happen.

    Rod Estvan

    Access Living of Metro Chicago

  • 12:50 asks about the Whistleblower Reward

    and Protection Act, 740 ILCS 175/1 et seq. Really all this act allows you to do is to file lawsuits that ask for damanges against the CPS for retaliation. So if you have the time and money you are free to file against the CPS for being charged, suspended without pay, or dismissed for insubordination related to advising a family that their kid's IEP is being violated. Be aware that Mr. Rocks and the CPS law department has unlimited money (due to tort liability provisions in the school code) to fight this type of lawsuit, in fact they may even hire outside counsel to fight you.

    You can also go to the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights and seek protection from insubordination. But in general it takes a long time and the OCR is reluctant to take on insubordination related to advocacy by teachers for disabled students outside of IEP meetings. The OCR has supported teachers for actions taken against them for statements made in defense of kids inside IEP meetings.

    Rod Estvan

    Access Living of Metro Chicago

  • 8:13 asks if the CPS stopped sending out subs for CWAs. When I was a Corey H. Monitor there were no CWA subs or instructional aide subs as far as I was aware, unless the school had some floating aide. Even at schools with extremely complex kids the school had to shift staff around to cover the students.

    I do want special education teachers and parents to understand that reconstructing an IEP team is not common. It has happened and yes the team reorgnaization can load an IEP team in favor of a school district. This type of IEP team reorganization has happened in the suburbs. I also saw it in a highly contested IEP meeting in another state.

    This does not happen that often because most special education teachers, psychologists, and related service providers do not openly support parents at IEP meetings when they are getting clear signs from the school administration that they are opposed to the parents demands for more services. This is not because the staff are bad people, but rather it is based on the reality that it is the school districts that pay staff not parents of disabled kids. In addition staff are aware of the service provision limits of their school and often do not believe their school districts will provide additional staff to support the child if they agree to the parents requests for more services.

    My experience in due process cases from my past when I did them is that when I put special education teachers on the stand, even after they have been preped by school district counsel, they often admit a child could benefit from additional services. Unfortunately, by that point the special ed teachers are so stressed, when they are crossed by school district counsel they backtrack and say something like all kids could use more services.

    Rod Estvan

    Access Living of Metro Chicago

  • I want to respond to 6:05. If you want to be a "millionaire" a retaliation claim is most likely not the best route for a special education teacher. But if you can find a good lawyer, have a lot of personal strength, and can withstand the appeals even if you win at the district level you can get lucky.

    Wrightslaw website in general presents cases in relation to the issue of teachers litigation on the issue of retalation only for winners not on losers. For example Pamella Settlegoode v. Portland Public Schools which 6:05 makes reference to when she talks about teachers getting a million dollar settlement was a winner, Fales v. Garst which Wrightslaw also has on its website is also a winner. If you want to read a more balanced presentation of cases I would recommend going to LRP's Special Education reports, which is not free, in fact it is expensive. In general the cases that are decided by summary judgement are not even discussed in LRP.

    Both of the lawsuites discussed took years, in fact the Fales case was filed in 1998 and I am not sure that it is yet settled. It was filed in the Western District of Arkansas and I do not have access to cases in that district.

    In the Settlegoode case brought suit against the Portland Public Schools, alleging that the district and its administrators violated section 504 of the Rehabilitation, Comprehensive Services, and Developmental Disabilities Act of 1978, 29 U.S.C. 794, Settlegoodes First Amendment free speech rights under 42 U.S.C. 1983, and Oregons Whistleblower Act, ORS 659A.200-.224. The case was won really on its fee speech claim. The judical analysis of the court of appeals in that case does not apply here in Chicago because we are in the 7th Cir Court of appeals.

    Now if teachers want to file lawsuits for retalation against the CPS I would strongly recommend they first have support from the CTU to pay for protracted litigation, because if they lose the costs will be high and they may very well have to pay the costs of the CPS in defending against the case.

    Do I think that this is fair? No I do not. I would strongly recommend that 6:05 contact me at Access Living about having knowledge about teachers who have been retalliated against for defending students rights. Needless to say any discussions will remain confidential.

    Rod Estvan

    Access Living of Metro Chicago

    rdest@aol.com

  • The Union contract states that a teacher can not be required to change diapers or toilet. In an emergency, I can understand it but it does detract from instructional time which is your primary responsibility under the IEP.

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