Fingerprinting LSC Members - New Or Normal?

Fingerprint_2
A regular reader writes in to say she's outraged that some LSC members are being told that they have to be fingerprinted, which was apparently not the case in her experience in the past and may not be actually required by ISBE. 

Is this new, citywide or area by area, or just one overzealous administrator?   Click below to read the letter she was sent.  Who's Michael Mahone, anyway?

Letter from CPS:

Congratulations on your recent election to become a Local School Council member.

As you know, individuals elected to a Local School Council must undergo a criminal background investigation as required by State law. Section 34-2.1(f-5) of the Illinois School Code requires that all newly elected LSC members submit fingerprints as part of this process. [note that the person who sent me this letter says "there is no mention offingerprinting in the section (as least as posted on the ISBE website)"]

In order to complete this process, please report to the fingerprinting service located at the Chicago Public Schools Staffing Unit, at 320 North Elizabeth Street, 1st floor. The process takes a few minutes and is available Monday through Friday between 8 AM and 5 PM. The day you come to be fingerprinted, bring this letter and one piece of photo identification.

Council members who do not respond to this request are subject to proceedings to vacate their LSC position. Please respond within 10 days. If you have any questions, please contact Ms. Samona Alvarado at 773/553-1423.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation with this process. Best wishes for your term as a Local School Council member.

Sincerely, Michael Mahone

Filed under: Communities & CBOs

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  • State law requires LSC members to undergo a criminal background check against the same criteria as CPS staff. Generally this only means running the LSC member's name and other ID through the state police database, but when there are multiple people with the same name, they will have to ask for fingerprints.

    PURE was able to get LSC members the right to a CPS ID badge based on this background check. We felt it was important since too often principals try to run LSC members off the school grounds when they try to carry out their LSC duties.

  • The level of meanness in some of these comments is really troubling. LSCs have been the cleanest form of government in the state of Illinois. That's not saying much but in fact no LSC member has been charged or convicted of any crime related to their duties. These are 6,000 volunteers who spend hundreds of thousands of hours to help make schools better.

    LSCs have made major changes to hundreds of CPS schools. Of course there is a variance in the effectiveness of LSCs, but to say that they are more often rubber stamps is not correct.

    LSC members and PURE's staff and volunteers are rarely if ever alone with students, who are supposed to be supervised by certified staff at all times.

    LSCs offer every resident of Chicago an opportunity to stop complaining and do something positive for your local school. Parents, teachers and community people in every city PURE has visited tell us they wish they had LSCs.

    And the research supports the effectiveness of local control under LSCs to improve schools. If Don Moore's studies don't convince you, just look at the newest Consortium report, The Essential Supports for School Improvement which shows how local control has worked and top-down intervention has failed.

  • Community has no specific structure that empowers people; LSCs do. They are an opportunity, like voting. Not everyone takes advantage of that opportunity but those who don't shouldn't try to take away opportunity from those who do participate.

    Other research contradicts the conclusion the Consortium draws: for example, "Empowered Participation" by Harvard's Dr. Archon Fung showed that LSCs can effectively build social capital in even the most disadvantaged communities.

  • I'm the parent who is outraged.

    First, I have no problem with a background check. This is my third LSC, there's always been a background check (despite the fact that I don't spend time with children in this capacity), but this is the first time I've ever been asked to provide fingerprints. I've spent 14+ years in schools and countless hours volunteering in various capacities. Those activities have put me in contact with children, yet no fingerprints were needed. And no, my name is not one that's likely to be shared with anybody, let alone a felon, so why this extra step is needed remains totally unclear to me.

    There are good LSCs and I'm lucky enough to be on one. We spent hours and hours doing providing support and taking some of the burden off administration and teachers and advocating for the entire student body for NO PAY, have to go through training, and are scrutinized more than any other elected officials in the state, as far as I know.

    Especially in our current Patriot Act world, you bet I'm upset that I'm supposed to provide some bureaucracy with my fingerprints because I go to monthly evening meetings and work on proposals and strategic plans at home.

  • This is a critical discussion that needs to happen in Chicago where there's been too much rhetoric and posturing.

    If we don't look at what's really working and not working, we'll lose another generation of children.

    We are getting close to some real answers here in Chicago, and it's not Renaissance 2010 or LSC- or teacher-bashing. Answers are coming from the research done here over the past 15 years.

    The Consortium report does connect real school improvement with "active LSCs and visionary principals" selected by LSCs. So does the Designs for Change report, The Big Picture.

    Some in Chicago might prefer to listen to the Civic Committee which boldly states that competition is the answer to school improvement - without a shred of evidence to support them.

    But with evidence on our side we can fight even harder for what will make a difference for our children, and it won't be one set of rhetoric pitted against another.

    The Consortium report suggests but does not make a convincing case that in the most disadvantaged communities, decentralization may not be the answer. Why doesn't it make more sense to add resources to strengthen LSCs, along with teachers, principals, and parents? And the report doesn't say what should happen instead.

    I'm also proud of the research (LSC Survey, UIC 2004) that showed that twice as many LSC members prefer getting training and support from independent groups than from CPS staff.

  • How do I find out the LSC members of the school in my neighborhood?

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