Featured Post: Special Education Central

Sorry about making you click twice -- the blog software won't let me create a button on the front page that goes straight to a blog post with comments (or at least, I don't know how to do that).  See below for reader comments.  This page was originally created in March 2010, and is now back "live" again in August 2011. I'll do my best to keep it current and to direct SPED-related discussions this way, but of course you can help by using this page and referring folks to topics and questions that are being covered here. Thanks!

Filed under: Featured Post

Tags: @featured

Comments

Leave a comment
  • I dont know if I like this. While it seems you are giving the special ed community a special service, the result may be hiding them away in some sort of restricted environment -- much like CPS does! Meanwhile, all those parents of gifted and "normal" kids will just ignore your link and our issues.

    But I'll play along: Most special ed kids should be tested, just like the other kids. Isnt it about time CPS is held accountable for the dismal graduation rates and low test scores of students with disabilities? Comparing those stats to state and national stats proves that we cannot blame the students.

  • In reply to LoryN:

    thanks for weighing in, laura -- i hear what you're saying and will revisit this if it doesn't work. just so you know, i don't intend for this to be isolating and am not limiting SPED-related comments to any one place.

    commenters can still raise SPED issues whenever and wherever they want.

    i'll still cover SPED issues in regular posts as they come up in the news.

    and readers' recent comments like yours will still appear in the right margin.

    let's give it a try and see how it goes.

    thanks again
    / alexander

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    I know you mean well.
    But I was a bit annoyed when you failed to post an article regarding the state regulations on restraints and seclusion, which has been an educational issue on the national level for some time now, an issue that particularly impacts children with special needs. You seem to post every other article involving education.

  • In reply to LoryN:

    thanks -- i get to as much as i can but obviously still miss a lot, especially if it's not obviously or immediately chicago-focused.

    [i have another blog, thisweekineducation.com, which is all about national issues.]

    feel free to ping me via email (district299 at gmail dot com) or simply copy and paste a link to anything you see that you think would be interesting.

    thanks!

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    Thanks, I didnt know how to reach you independently, and I didnt know which string would be appropriate for post the US Dept. link.

    Here is something I read today that looks interesting from Bob Herbert: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/06/opinion/06herbert.html
    It is not specifically about special ed, but considering the high rate of disabled students who are victimized in Chicago, it is relevant.
    I'll check out the thisweekineducation block.

  • In reply to LoryN:

    That's a scary article ! And all the taxpayer dollars that go for the settlements instead of education. What a shame!

  • In reply to b5ranger:

    This keeps lawyers happy and employed.
    And what career do most congressmen have?

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    Anon, I hope you are not a special ed teacher. It is my understanding that special services, especially accommodations, are designed to aid students in mastering the curriculum, not denying students an equal education. The curriculum should only be modified for students with high incidence disabilities. I've know many students with special needs who are in or have graduated from college. Two that I know of scored 27 on their ACTs. I also have a former student who was not in special ed, but her highest score was a 17. In four years, she had her degree and teacher certification, having even completed the student teaching in that timeframe. She did have to take one remedial math class. I struggled with my college math courses, even at the community college level and after taking remedial math. I hear college graduation requirements are tougher today, though.

  • In reply to LoryN:

    How can we fairly test a SPED student who has an instructional level of grade 2, but must be tested at grade 5 because of age? Isn't that putting them up for failure?

  • In reply to LoryN:

    I do not agree with the idea of testing students with disabilities at their instructional level. Because we have no way of knowing if that instructional level is appropriate for each student. Some teachers clearly do not acdemically press students with disabilities and others do. I do not think there is a simple solution to this problem.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to LoryN:

    Totally NUTS to test kids at levels so far beyond their ability. One of my students finished the reading portion, meant to take 55 minutes, in about 15 minutes. What exactly does his score mean? NOTHING - just how lucky he was in bubbling answers ! It is illogical to say a child is in need of special services, and then test him at the same level as his age peers. Just one more way we fail Sp. Ed. students .

  • In reply to LoryN:

    The ACT comment was interesting, because an 80 composite IQ score is well within the normal range. My own daughter has an IQ score in the range of 70 to 77 and with accomodiations she scored a 17 on the ACT. By CPS standards a 17 is actually very good for most students in non selective high schools. Our family fully preped our daughter for the test, really the special ed staff over two years did little or nothing to prepare any of the disabled students at Mather High for the ACT. All the ACT prep work at Mather was aimed at students most likely to enter college, not students with disabilities. When I objected to this I was told teh school did not have the resources to run more students through a prep program, which I knew was true.

    I do not think a 17 is great, but it reflects what can be done with a student testing in the low normal IQ range. The problem is most of our low normal students do not have parents with graduate degrees or the resources to enroll their children in Kaplan prep classes. We should also be aware that a 17 ACT score is not predictive of college success, which in my daugther case has been proven to be true. She does however have one full year of college credits, but to be honest she can not get through college level math as yet.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to LoryN:

    I will be really interested in what parents, community members, and teachers write here. Yesterday I was at Kinzie School for a meeting on the needs of CPS deaf students that included staff from the CEO's Office, OSS, Kinzie School, and two outside agencies one of which was Access Living. At this meeting there was an extremely interesting discussion of the Illinois Alternate Assessment (IAA).

    The discussion included not only the issue of students with disabilities who are required to take ISATs, and PSAE who are being blown out of the water by the test, but also the fact that the IAA is far too easy for some of the students with disabilities who are overwhelmed by ISAT, PSAE. There was also a discussion of the fact that all of these tests do not really show growth well for many students with disabilities. The new Scantron Interim Assessment which will be given four times a year was also discussed and problems with it were noted.

    I came away from that meeting deeply impressed by the administration and staff of Kinzie School for their informed discussion on the needs of CPS students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to LoryN:

    Honestly, I don't believe any students should be put under the pressure of high stakes testing, especially the younger grades. No child has not been exposed to the standards -- for whatever reason -- should be measured by them.

    I know it is a contradiction, but I want CPS to be held accountable to some agency, somehow.

  • I agree that English Language Learners who have not demonstrated proficiency on the ACCESS should not have to take ISAT/PSAE. NCLB treats this group unfairly as they are no longer part of the subgroup once they are no longer classified as ELLs -- so how do they show growth?!

    When I was in high school, graduation requirements were a lot lower. At that level, my electives provided the education that I still use today. In my case, it mostly was journalism classes, though I am sure many students' shop classes lead them to careers.

  • I do not think all special ed. student should be tested i have taught special education for 23 years. i think i have had maybe 10 students that really should have taken the isat. Most of the students are not prepared. In cps schools in the hood we are baby sitters. we do not have books and do not get any money form the principals to buy educational materials for the sp. child. We have to deal with unbelievable behavior problems and gen. ed. troubled students are put in our rooms at any time/without iep's. I have student who think it is unfair and are made to feel dumb. because they cannot read or remember numbers. in short most of my student in the cps system were drug effected. Last year before i was laid off, i had 3 4 5 6 7 and 8th graders in my classroom. I had to test all of them, in one classroom. not fair. they are the lost children!!!!

  • I would love to know about a city or state that is really doing a great job with SWDs. What I see at CPS is really disheartening and while the suburbs seem slightly better, I do not necessarily think that they are all that either. It seems to me that if you have a child with disabilities, better to be independently wealthy if you want them to succeed (in whatever way success if defined anyway).

  • I do not know what you mean by a blended program, ECSE, PFA, I.E., or developmental kindergarten. But I do know, 2 years in Kindergarten is an excellent idea, especially for boys. My oldest son, a Christmas baby who was already older than his peers, was removed from K and sent to early childhood, followed the next year with Kindergarten. I was devastated, but that was the '80s, before parents started enrolling their children at six or seven. Middle school really was a turning point for my son. He graduated from high school older than his peers, at the age of 19, with a full scholarship to the University of Florida.

  • Perhaps he is with a firm that helps CPS to fight all those pesky parents of spec ed students filing due process, or at least trying to get services.

  • In reply to LoryN:

    LOLOLOLOL
    "pesky parents"?
    you mean the ones that pay taxes for services their children have a right to?

  • In reply to LoryN:

    NEW TOPIC!!

    I would like to know if any families are experiencing bullying issues of their children in SPED and how their schools are handling them.

  • In reply to EandJ:

    From my experience, ignoring bullying towards any student is a tradition of most schools. My oldest son was bullied so badly in a DuPage Co. school that the school social worker actually suggested that I place him in a boarding school for at-risk students. We moved to another district, and his life turned around for the better.

    Now, many years later, my younger son was bullied for over four years while attending Beacon Therapeutic, a private day school contracted by CPS to take ED students. Not only did the school ignore it, but staff officially declared in my son's last IEP that rather than being bullied, he was the bully. He did confess to me that he jointed others in picking on one vulnerable child, which really upset me. However, I have witnessed and have witnesses that saw my son being bullied over the years. The school does not seem to have any programs to address peer interactions, nor do parents have access to classrooms or each other. I think that sets all students up for a them-versus-us mentality.
    Regardless, the real bullies at Beacon are the staff members with their threats of "calming" (seclusion) and "therapeutic" restraints.

  • In reply to EandJ:

    Here is a sad story posted today in the Boston Globe.

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2010/03/holding_for_pho.html

  • In reply to EandJ:

    CPS vows special education program overhaul / March 29, 2010 10:55 PM

    http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2010/03/cps-vows-special-education-program-overhaul.html

    Rex & Azam, Could you share the real details on this fakey statement? What the heck is she saying?

    "She said the district plans to implement a data-driven system that will track special education students from the moment families make contact with their local schools."

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    Here it is two and a half years later and SPED continues to be a hot mess. Families make contact but when is the data entered? CPS stalls worse than a rebate company.

    Entire school populations of students with disabilities are dumped into full inclusion-the special education teachers are reduced to very well paid aides-no AYP but no one cares.
    Three year evaluations are done and no one cares that the child is still at the same level as the initial evaluation. When the sped teacher asks for more services due to the child's lack of growth she/he is vilified.

  • In reply to EandJ:

    Heard of one more staffer cut from OSS downtown.

  • In reply to EandJ:

    I'm soooo tired of spending hours and hours and hours on an e-IEP. In the long run, it produces a better document, but there's GOT to be an easier way. The tedium of checking the same boxes over and over again; sitting patiently, or not so patiently as I'm told 'please wait'. Hours of my life wasted. This is how teachers get burned out.

  • In reply to EandJ:

    Why are you told to "please wait"? Is the broadband slow? Does it happen every time you check a box or input data or just when you navigate to the next page? How many pages are there? How much dead/waiting time is involved in compiling an e-IEP?

  • In reply to EandJ:

    Drop down menus, box checks, etc. It's just a poorly designed program--literally 50% or more of the time spent completely wasted. That's time that great teachers could be serving students instead of filling out paperwork.

    xian from CORE

  • In reply to EandJ:

    Yes, she is still head of autism. If no one responds to your question re her e-mail address, try m.buti@cps.k12.il.us. If that doesn't work, call OSS and ask if they could connect you to her.

  • In reply to EandJ:

    I need a lawyer to handle a due process case for special education with CPS, can anyone help?

  • In reply to EandJ:

    I can be reached by email at jgraham.sr@earthlink.net

  • In reply to LoryN:

    This really doesn't have to be blatant bullying but covert as well.

  • In reply to LoryN:

    I need help from CPS early childhood special education teachers. In the story below about the CPS closing pre-school programs I learned letters were sent out to parents on this issue. I would like a pdf copy of the letter, I would like a pdf copy of any letters sent from CPS to case managers on placement of disabled pre-school students once these programs are closed. We are considering litigation options and I need this information.

    It can be sent to Restvan@accessliving.org I promise never to reveal the name of the sender. The article follows:

    State budget crisis threatens pre-school programs
    Loss of funding impacts Chicago early childhood education
    WGN News WGN News
    March 23, 2010
    CHICAGO - They're too young to know what a budget crisis is, but some pre-school students in the Beverly neighborhood are feeling the impact of it.

    Letters went out recently to parents of children who attend the Barbara Vick Early Childhood and Family Center, at 2554 W. 113th St., telling them the state budget crisis has caused a loss of funding for their school's early childhood program.

    School principal Cathy Lawton tells WGN that 180 early childhood students -- 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds -- will not have any program. "And there are 60 children here that have individual education programs -- special needs children -- that will not have the opportunity to be educated with their non-disabled peers," she says.

    Barbara Vick is a CPS pre-school for all center that blends children of all stages of development. Lawton says CPS will now provide funding for that program in schools that have a poverty rate of 93% or higher. That leaves Vick's program on the chopping block.

    CPS has offered options -- transferring children who meet the poverty rate to other pre-school programs, or Barbara Vick parents can pay tuition in the neighborhood of $4,000.

    CPS tells WGN they had no other choice. They are owed $235 million from Springfield.

    Parents are starting to do some letter writing.

    About 10,000 pre-schoolers citywide are affected by the CPS funding plans.
    Copyright

  • And there are many accommodations that can be made too. That are simple and would make it easier for them in the long run.

  • I am a parent to a preschool child with autism. I thought I was very prepared for his IEP and I tried really hard to be a good advocate for him, but I still came out disappointed. Questions for the experts:

    1. I thought they had to provide the number of minutes of speech that he needs, not how many they can afford or fit in the therapist's schedule. The school told me at the meeting that 60 minutes is the "maximum the district offers, for any diagnosis." I had documentation that he needs more than that, but was told 60 minutes was all he could get. What exactly is the law?

    2. I am baffled as to why CPS doesn't offer ABA therapy. It is well known in autism education that the so-called "eclectic" or "play-based" programs are *far less effective* at teaching children with autism than ABA. FAR less. I brought up ABA at the IEP and was told it isn't offered in CPS at all. What??? This is 2011, and ABA has been proven superior in research for at least the last 20 years. Why isn't CPS getting with the program?

    3. I would like to hear about the autism programs that CPS offers for elementary school. Where will my son be able to go for kindergarten? Are the programs any good? If they are crap, how can I get my son into a private school?

    4. Lastly, my son's deficits are all in language, communication, social skills, and repetitive behavior. So far we have been told that his cognitive skills are normal. However, testing him is very difficult because of his communication problems and repetitive behavior.

    I want to have him tested for selective enrollment elementary schools, I don't think he could possibly do the test unless it is all pictures. Is there an option for him to be tested in a way that is suitable for his disability?

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    I can't say for sure if "60 minutes" is a maximum but anytime you receive an answer that you question, such as this one, please don't be afraid to be pleasantly confrontational. You have every right to request documentation.

    One other suggestion: Ask for EVERY available option. We asked this in my son's first IEP (in Oak Park, not in CPS) and even so we had to drag it out of them what the options were. I wouldn't exactly say they were prevaricating but you must assume they won't tell you everything because they will not.

    By the way, it's ironic that you say that about ABA because in Oak Park they won't touch play-based therapy. We found Floortime was far more effective for our son and had to make sure they would NEVER use ABA or pictures. There really is no one size fits all and I wish you the best of luck with your son. He's a lucky boy to have a parent looking out for him as you are.

  • I am sorry you have had a negative IEP experience but please do not give up. The first step you need to take is to ask to observe programs in CPS and programs in the suburbs. This way you can compare.

    We do not give children with autism the amount of minutes they need in speech/language. I have seen children who transfer in from the suburbs have their speech minutes reduced to 60,"cause that's the rule". Parents, including CPS employees with children with disabilities, have filed due process against CPS for inadequate programs for students with disabilities. They usually win.

    It is not uncommon in the suburbs to have autism programs with 5-7 children with a SPED teacher, a speech-language pathologist and one to one aides in the room ALL day. Parents need to demand the same type of services suburban parents get. Do not forget Mr. Brizard had vowed to make special education, a priority. I would call him or send him a certified letter.

  • If I had a child with special needs, particularly one as severe as you are describing your autistic child, I'd high tail it out of the city. CPS does not serve sped kids well. Research suburban options, visit programs, sell your home or dump it and move. Just my two cents.

  • In reply to teacherparent:

    I'd agree with that. We started out with a now-closed pre-school and kindergarten on the North Side, and when our HFA son hit 1st grade age, we were handed an IEP and literally had to find our own school to implement it without any direction from CPS.

    After four years in resource and enough apparent progress to warrant inclusion with an aide, we saw a progressively severe meltdown of his behavior that led to the school requesting a placement change. After we went to due process, CPS agreed to a "diagnostic placement" at a self-contained autism room (something he'd never needed before), at a well-known -- and otherwise excellent -- flagship school.

    At that placement, we saw further emergence of behavioral patterns thanks to modeling negative examples of previously unseen behaviors, a teacher that referred to himself as a "game warden", and sought to write a replacement IEP aimed primarily at "post-high school environments" -- for a sixth grader. This for a child that had at least one grade-level ISAT equivalent two years before. They also tried to pin a "cognitively impaired" label on him that was rejected at least twice by previous IEP teams based on his measured scores by CPS psychologists.

    It took another due process filing to get him to a private day school where he finally received education from a highly organized, well-trained teacher and support staff to enable him to make sustained progress.

    My advice is to extensively investigate suburban schools, or to be prepared to become the stereotype of the engaged parent if you want to stay in the city. And finding a good DP lawyer with an on-staff parent advocate that can go to your IEP meetings is essential. Even if you hope to never file for Due Process, as a wise man once said, "if you want peace, prepare for war".

    nally making the educational progress we'd thought we'd had three years ago.

  • In reply to survivorofthesystem:

    Sorry - that last sentence fragment is redundant. Unless there's a way to edit the replies, that is.

  • In reply to teacherparent:

    In this economy it is not possible for many of us to dump our homes without going bankrupt, but that's the severity of the situation, I agree! (Those of us who could afford to dump 'em would be paying private school tuition and wouldn't need to dump 'em in the first place.) I wanted my kid to attend public school until I had to wrestle with CPS. We are done. Home school it will be until we win the lotto or we can afford to move to a place with an affordable program for our kid's particular needs. (Don't think it exists, frankly; running out of time, money, and energy to advocate; hence, the DIY approach.)

  • In reply to teacherparent:

    Our school has full inclusion. All of the children with disabilities have been dumped into gen ed. A sped teacher is in the room only part of the day.The children are not doing well. I learned in college that schools are required to offer different placements according to the child's needs. Is this one size fits all approach even legal? It this a CPS pilot and how many schools have this weird set-up.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Formally speaking CPS legally denies it has any program called “full inclusion” within the city at all. It has argued repeatedly in numerous due process cases and district court level cases that it offers a full continuum of placements for every student. Legally speaking they are correct because the law you are referring to relates to school districts as a whole or LEAs not each and every individual school.

    But the reality you depict is unfortunately correct. Access Living has been calling for several years now to create new programs at the elementary school level for what are called high incidence students (LD, EBD, SPL) who are receiving direct services in their IEPs for 20% or less of the school day.

    These students need to be serviced in a new type of classroom that we call a universal designed class. A classroom where the instructor has both a full certification in regular education and special education, where the total class size is reduced and the number of students with IEPs is really limited to no more than 30% of the room and that cap is really enforced. These teachers would also be paid at a higher rate than regular education teachers without dual certification teaching in traditional classrooms. That new type of teacher would deliver all special education services in the IEP to the students in the classroom, other services like social work or speech services would remain in a traditional format.

    CPS’s highest functioning students with IEPs are currently achieving at levels that are the furthest from their potential. This is starkly reflected in the fact that by grade 11 less than 8% of CPS students with IEPs who are given the PSAE are able to read at state standards. Access Living agrees that what is being called full inclusion within Chicago is largely a fraud, with rare exceptions. However, the solution is not to propel students into separate settings where there is little evidence that they can receive a more appropriate public education.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Unfortunately, in my experience, "the experts" know very little about special education, particularly the law. The case managers, generally know the least. Teachers are generally allowed to write the minutes and goals as they see fit. For one sped teacher, when she learned she had this authority, she made all of her students inclusion. Most administrators really don't understand special education and rely on the ill-informed case manager for input. Proper placement is a fight even when a school and the SSA of the network agrees that the student should be placed in a different setting. Then you have the politics of the placement office to contend with. I had a student with a 47 IQ who could not recall their age without severe repetition for a month. Learned 3 letters in the 6 school months I had him, and none prior to that. However the placement for a severe/profound classroom kept being rejected for silly, silly reasons. According to the SSA, the person making the decision had never been a special educator and was making baseless decisions.

  • In reply to SpedTeacher:

    Yes, and CPS loves it when teachers(?) dump everyone into inclusion-frees up classrooms and doubles the caseloads. Placement is supposed to be based upon the needs of the child-not all children need inclusion-some need pull-out and some need to spend the majority of the day in self-contained but we have entire schools with no pull-out and no self-contained-the children are not placed according to their individual needs and no one questions the legality of this practice. Where are the SSAs, ISBE or the parents?

  • Almost all CPS early childhood special education programs are half day. If you factor in meals, busing, other therapies, etc, there is not much time left to give students more than 60 minutes or any particular therapy per week. None of my students have ever gotten any more than 30-45 minutes of speech per week, though many receive outside therapy services, including ABA. Often therapists don't want to give the students any more than 30 minutes, unless the parent and teacher push hard.

    I assume that your child is currently is preschool aged. As far as kindergarten placements for children with autism go, it depends on how your child functions. If your child is will be able to function in a regular K class with pull out service, you can have the IEP written for him to attend kindergarten. If your child requires a smaller classroom with aides, he will remain in ECSE until his first grade year. He will then be moved to the next level classroom. Unfortunately CPS did away with developmental Kindergarten for the most part, which is a real disservice to the children. Not all special education programs are bad, as some have suggested, but as I always tell my parents, you need to be vigilant in checking out each classroom and teacher, rather than the school in general.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Thank you for the advice. I am not an autism professional - just a parent - but I think my son is sort of in the middle regarding the severity of his disability. He is only 4 now, but is making ok progress in private therapy. We hope he'll be ready to transition out of the self contained room for kindergarten or first grade, but I don't think he'll be so advanced as to be able to hold his own in a regular classroom.

    I wish there was something in the middle. Right now the choices are limited to self-contained with all disabled kids, or mainstream with 30-40 non-disabled kids. Even with an aid, I don't think he could handle a class that large.

    Stock School has a nice preschool (he doesn't go there, but I've heard about it) that has a mix of disabled kids and non-disabled. But it is only a preschool so it wouldn't be an option for K or 1st grade. I wish CPS offered something similar for elementary school.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    I wanted to share two schools that I've had positive experiences with.

    Soaring Eagle Academy (http://soaringeagleacademy.org/index.php) is for kids who have somewhat greater needs and uses Floortime DIR-based approach. My son still sees speech therapist Michele Ricamato, one of the school's founders, even though he doesn't attend. She's wonderful.

    We also looked into The Children's School in Berwyn (http://csop.us/home.html). We eventually decided to go with our local elementary school but we interviewed them and the school and the people were impressive. It's not a special needs school, per se, but they are able to adapt to a child's needs and if like us you're unsure about a typical classroom this could be an option.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    As I understand it, the sped law requires that your son's IEP must be matched to HIS needs in order to obtain an appropriate education, not what the school (CPS) says is convenient or available if it's not a match for his needs. If he needs "something in the middle" and you've documented that need (line up your experts), then you have to focus on that in the IEP meetings. Don't take something that will harm him in the long-run. Prepare now to help CPS do right by your son.

  • I always thought a continuum of services needs to be offered....whether these services are at the local school or city wide should not matter. Parents are being told that full inclusion is the only program at the school and they are not being offered a cross cat elsewhere. Here is the spiel the parents get...you do not want your child stigmatized by being pulled out for services....well parents here is the truth...your child will be stigmatized if he/she cannot read in high school and your child will not learn to read in full inclusion...he/she needs to receive intensive individual or small group reading instruction in a quiet place away from the 33 children in the gen ed room..a previous poster who lost her job said there are two teachers for 52 full inclusion students...it is insane in SPED at CPS...inclusion is for those students who need support but can read the grade level text...

    The SSAs who are supposed to monitor and support SPED do jack...they run around spouting inanities such as PARF til you BARF which means no positions will be opened so grin and bear it...or they spend so much time trying to pronounce specific as Pacific and hide their total lack of knowledge by being trifing and downright hostile...parents it is up to you to advocate for your child..we work for a system that does not care about the children or the employees...also follow the monies...where do the SPED monies go?

  • Here's my rant as SPED parent. I have a child who's classified as academically on par but with definite social/emotional needs. The start of the school year was great, teacher with a structured classroom, all one grade level, kids who were either supportive or ignoring of my child. Then, because of an aide snafu they send my child to the other classroom: a split grade class where my daughter becomes the youngest by 2 years, with kids who know exactly what her issues are and delight in pushing the buttons and a teacher who basically says "oh well, deal".
    And then they're going to be upset because she's not performing as well academically as the last year?!?! How about you read the freaking IEP and put her back where she belongs?!? Then you'll see progress rather than regression.
    Feel better, off soapbox (but still raging & protesting @ the school).

  • In reply to Michi:

    Does your child receive either direct or consultative services from a SPED teacher? If she does, talk to the SPED teacher and see if she can help you get a change of classroom for your daughter. I am a SPED teacher at CPS. My requests for a particular teacher or classroom for my students are usually granted. Most SPED teachers will advocate for their students as much as their parents do. We know that many of our SPED students are not getting the kinds of support and instruction that they need. The situation you describe is definitely working against the best interests of your daughter. I hope this helps! Good luck

  • I am sorry you are seeing the worst of CPS we do have many dedicated people it sounds like you may have not encountered them yet. I am a member of a SPED team and after we finish our interview I manage a bit of alone time and this is what I tell each parent.
    -You are your child's best advocate, never forget that , Do what you have to do to get the results you need.
    -That copy of your rights as a parent that you just got? Know them and do not hesitate to enforce them. Once I had to fax a page to a case manager and ask him why he was unwilling to follow to federal law in my daughters case. Then tell the man that if we did not have an appointment for a 504 within 11 days my next call would be to a lawyer, his first call would be to the region. Result: We had an appointment scheduled within 30 minutes.
    -You have a right too inspect your child's file. That exchange of information you just signed for hospital records? Yes, you have a right to a copy of them too, get one from the nurse. Bring her a cup of coffee and she will probably bind it for you too!
    -An hour for an IEP? That is balderdash and is a limit probably set by the principal. They can turn off the heat, ac make you sweat and freeze, keep you without a break BUT...and this is a dirty little secret....your butt is your best weapon. Don't leave until you understand everything and agree to everything. It scares the hell out of teams when a parent does not move and the schedule is blown.
    -Don't bring your other kids to the meeting .
    -If you bring a lawyer you have to notify the case manager, as CPS has a right to have one of theirs at the meeting also. If you bring one by surprise it will at the very least delay things.

    If my child had autism and was the same age as yours I would try for Daniel Beard and no other school.

    I hope this helps, most importantly, know your rights and advocate for your child no one can do it like you can!

  • In reply to Traveler:

    Righto about bringing a lawyer. As much as I hate to say it, a man in a good suit who knows the sped law and your child's disability down cold can work magic at an IEP. Yes, a man in a suit.

  • This is very good advice. I wish our parents were more proactive. I am tired of fighting OSES for services for my students. Parents need to disagree with case managers who say that full inclusion will be good for the child's self-esteem. No, it will not be good for the child, it will be good for CPS-less teachers needed. How does an entire school's special education department suddenly qualify for no pull-out services....illegal and easily checked by CO. If your child is labeled LD and is more than 3-4 years behind I'd have lots of questions, the first being why weren't services increased so he/she could be closer to grade level? If your child is autistic I would certainly question why he/she receives only 40 minutes of speech in a group setting in the autism room! We have many children who are receiving special education and are in the foster care system....who is there to advocate for them...not the foster parent and not CPS. The psychologists who work for CPS tend to diagnose up which means less services for children with severe disabilities. We have many children in LD who have IQs in the low seventies and they need more services than an LD child with an IQ of 110. Simple but not in CPS...no allowances made for these children.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Amen to that! I am constantly at odds with our school psychologist about this. I work with these kids everyday, she tests every three years. Who is the better judge of what kind of program and how many minutes the child needs to have the most success academically? Getting the right kind and amount of services needed for our students is an uphill battle. With caseloads upwards of 24 students across three grades and spread out among 9 classrooms, trying to do inclusion as the board is pushing for is virtually impossible. What a travesty!
    Working in SPED in CPS is like beating your head against the wall.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    That is exactly why in the best of all possible worlds Candide we need to work as a TEAM. That means listening to everyone bus aids, teachers, 1:1, everyone who has contact with the child. At the worst of times it is exactly like beating your head against the wall and watching kids and families getting screwed.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Not enough certified staff hired to meet demand and needs of CPS most challenged students. Class action lawsuit? Send them to charter schools? Rahm sings their praises every chance he change he gets.

  • Hi. I have a question that I can't seem to find an answer to anywhere in print: I have a child with severe developmental delays in a kindergarten program now in CPS. My son has an IEP, and I'm happy with the program he is in, but I don't know if he will be ready to go on to first grade next year-- academically, socially/emotionally, etc. I'm wondering who determines whether your student goes on to the next school year, and what that determination is based on. Is it determined by whether or not he meets the goals on his IEP, even if they are nowhere near the expected achievements of his typically developing peers by the end of the school year? Is repeating kindergarten something a parent could advocate for, and what would our rights be in determining his promotion to first grade? And where can I find any of this in writing?? CPS is a labyrinth to navigate when it comes to special education laws!! Thanks!

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    This is not my area but you are asking some great questions! Retaining kids is always a tough decision (or should be) and with an IEP I believe very difficult. However I hear your concerns, who can you go to for answers?
    -A case manager, if you have a good relationship with your son's at his school work with them. If you get nowhere network with parents of other DD kids you know and find a friendly one.
    -Look on your son's first IEP, or last PK and see who was the Early Childhood Rep. track them down and ask them for advice. The region office should help you with that task.
    -There are parent groups out there, start looking.

  • Now would be a good time to do an initial consult with sped attorney Matt Cohen if you're involed with CPS

  • This is an excerpt from Mr Brizard on WBEZ

    Comment From Kandalyn
    You asked that we let you know about Jean-Claude Brizard's promised follow-up to questions posed to him during the December's show. I phoned in and asked how we could change the policy for next school year that prevents delayed entry into kindergarten for kids with developmental delays who need an extra year of preschool to be ready. Mr. Brizard emailed me and got the head of Special Education, Dick Smith, to email me as well. Dr. Smith has been working to draft a memo clarifying that: -CPS policy does not trump IDEA (the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). -IEP (Individual Education Plan) teams can consider delayed entry for kindergarten and even preschool in rare instances when developmental delays or medical conditions mean that an additional year would significantly impact the child’s ability to succeed at school and/or allow them to be in a less restrictive environment the following year. -A Special Service Administrator would need to be at the IEP meeting. Consideration should be given to the timing of the IEP in order for the family to meet CPS deadlines for magnet, magnet cluster, and open enrollment lottery or selective enrollment admissions. Dr. Smith said they are currently trying to "figure out the language and get something concrete." The coalition of parents I represent hopes to continue working with Dr. Smith to make sure that this memo is finalized and distributed as soon as possible in order to make a difference for families facing this issue now.

    " This is so sad that a letter/memo must be written to the higher ups in OSS that their unwritten mandates/poliicies DO NOT trump IDEA or any other law....we, the teachers know this is illegal yet we are overridden by the very people we are supposed to rely on....when will these arrogant people in OSS, who make up their own rules to the detriment of the children be held accountable"...when will they stop chanting "full inclusion" for all anniesullivan

  • Would this also apply to delaying the start of high school for a child with an IEP who needs it? OSS told us no.

  • This is another CPS scam. Children with disabilities are allowed to say in school until they turn 23. We are discouraged if not ordered to pass all special education students. The BS is "if the iEP is written correctly then the child will pass" When I started in CPS children who were behind ( high incidence) were retained in the primary and only after that intervention was applied and the child was still failing a referral was made for a case study. Sometimes children, especially if a late birthday is involved, need an extra year, but this costs CPS money so it is discouraged. Now we pass them along and CPS wonders why they drop out freshman year...it does save CPS lots of money. I always tell my parents that their child can stay in high school until he/she graduates or turns 23.

  • Is there anyone at Central Office with a modicum of common sense? We were told at a meeting that a child who is non-ambulatory can be left by his/her aide so the aide can assist children in another room, floor or building! So when the fire alarm goes off......Where are the attorneys? Where is the CFD? We are being run by totally insane people! Parents of SPED need to advocate for their children because the teachers are being ignored or threatened by those crazy people.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    What does the IEP say? Get help from Access Living.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Unless the parent of the child is willing to come forward or the majority of the IEP team votes against the IEP as currently written the situation will continue. Have the parent contact me at Access Living so the IEP can be formally reviewed.

    Rod Estvan

  • The IEP states "dedicated aide" due to medical issue/ambulatory needs...doesn't matter what the IEP says....the parent may not realize what is going on and when they do will they file? CPS violates IEPs routinely...this is going on at other schools also....how about schools where all of the self-contained programs have been shut down and everyone, no matter if it is the LRE, receives no pull-out services under the guise of "full inclusion" the SPED teacher is being used to buttress weaker/newer teachers in co-teaching models...the gen ed student is receiving the same services as the SPED student....what a scam....

  • That's true. We lived it.

  • Case managers and clinicians were told last week that schools are to begin revising IEPs to alter the minutes so that they reflect the longer school day. Is this legal? How can we rewrite the IEP and include minutes that may or may not be valid in September? What happens if IEPs are revised and enough pressure is placed on Rahm and CPS to reduce the longer school day. Questions were raised as to how all of these IEPs were going to be revised, and they were told that there was money for people to stay after school. Where is that money coming from? What can schools do to prevent having to do this? Is it even an option? Or is it a done deal?

  • I continue to read countless complaints against OSES and the knowledge, or lack of, regarding their administrators. It is not about the number of administrators, but the leadership skills and qualifications for their positions. Request educational backgrounds, degrees, ISBE certifications and titles of the Directors and Officers in that department. Are they remotely qualified to hold those positions in District 299? (Probably only a few....at best.) CPS has a great opportunity for major change to improve services to children with disabilities and schools when Dick Smith retires in June.

  • In reply to District 299 Reader:

    Here is the easy way to get the information you are concerned about. Go to https://sec1.isbe.net/ecs/aspapps/teachersearch.asp

    This link will give you the current cerfitication for any teacher or administrator. It is easy to use.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Thanks Rod. I had access to the ISBE site prior to my earlier post. I could not find one Officer and a few Directors of OSES even listed on the ISBE site. Hence my earlier post regarding the current leadership. I don't have a complete list of their team. Thanks again.

  • I'm sharing this:

    (quote)
    While most of the testimony before ISBE was predictable
    (administrator groups in favor of repealing all these state rules -
    "another mandate" that we "cannot afford" - and teacher and
    parent groups opposed), much of the discussion was on the state
    rule defining a "general education" classroom as one in which
    no more than 30 percent of the students have an IEP.

    By law, these proposed rule changes were presented to the
    Illinois State Advisory Council (ISAC) on the Education of
    Children with Disabilities. They voted 9 to 4 to OPPOSE
    the eliminination of the 30 percent limit in a general ed class.

    But after the ISAC Chair, Beth Conran, informed ISBE of that
    9 to 4 vote to OPPOSE, she stated that she personally was in
    SUPPORT of eliminating the 30 percent limit.

    ISAC took NO vote on eliminating all the special ed class size
    limits as it appears they spent their time fighting over the
    30 percent limit for general ed.

    Judy Hackett, presenting testimony for the special education
    administrators (IAASE), stated they supported local control
    and that Response to Intervention (RTI) meant that we "move
    away from disability labels."

    ACTION YOU CAN TAKE

    (1) Let everyone know what is happening.
    ISBE released the proposed rule changes on its website
    the afternoon before the vote. A parent who testified
    said he found out about it at midnight.
    (2) Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
    (3) Contact your State Representative and State Senator
    in Springfield to tell them what ISBE is attempting to do.

    Be prepared to offer public comment on the proposed
    rules, although there is no guarantee that ISBE will
    change course unless they are forced to do so.

    Bev Johns, Chair
    ISELA - Illinois Special Education Coalition
    (unquote)

  • With all the wreckless and thoughtless school closings, summer school has not been addressed. As a teacher, we would have known locations by now, but we do not. This effects ESY summer placement. Does anyone have a clue as to what is going on with summer school?

  • Q for someone with knowledge of OSES: we're researching moving our son's CPS placement from a specific non-pubic therapeutic school we don't like to one with more focus and better transition services for high-school aged kids, and I understand that CPS primarily (if not exclusively) only places children into schools with existing vendor contracts, even with a SPED lawyer and due process settlement. We won a DP case to get him tuitioned out in 2010, so at least in theory we hopefully won't have to go to DP to get him moved to a different private placement

    Most of the schools that work with higher functioning ASD kids don't have contracts with CPS, so we do either have to settle for what's available with CPS contacts, move him back to public, or move to the suburbs to a district with more flexibility?

    Is it true that CPS ONLY tuitions to eight private specialized schools as of June, 2012? I only found the eight schools listed on this BOE vote from 6/27/12:

    http://www.cpsboe.org/content/actions/2012_06/12-0627-PR10.pdf

    In contrasts, a similar decision in2010 listed over 60 schools:
    http://www.cps.edu/About_CPS/The_Board_of_Education/Documents/BoardActions/2010_06/10-0623-PR44.pdf

    Approve Entering Into an Agreement with Various Non-Public Specialized Schools to Provide Specialized Program Services

  • In reply to survivorofthesystem:

    Because your question is so complex and involves confidential issues we need to talk directly. Email me at Restvan@accessliving.org

    It is true CPS is heavily using what it calls preferred providers. But it is also true your child has a legal entitlement to a high school transition process.

    Rod Estvan

  • Call Rod Estvan at Access Living for help on that.

  • Please stop this travesty…..email ISBE at the address below...
    Bev Johns. Another attempt at raising Special Education class size.
    by Fred Klonsky
    Bev Johns is a long-time Special Education activist and advocate.

    From: Beverley Holden Johns
    Date: Fri, Jan 10, 2014 at 12:41 PM
    Subject: new ISBE plan to eliminate special ed class size

    The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) staff has a new proposal to ELIMINATE State special ed class size limits, and ELIMINATE the State 70/30 rule - the 30 percent limit on the percentage of students with an IEP that can be in a regular general ed class.

    The plan will be presented to the ISBE Board at its meeting on January 22 and 23, 2014, for FINAL approval.

    There will be NO hearings and NO ability to evaluate the proposal before it is presented for FINAL ISBE Board action.

    The proposal would let each LOCAL school district decide on a STAFFING PLAN.

    You can send your objections NO LATER THAN Monday, January 13, to rules@isbe.net

    Be sure to say how having your local school district decide on a special ed STAFFING PLAN would affect you, your child, the
    children in your classroom, or the children you serve.

    - Bev Johns

  • Fred Klonsky has this on his blog from Wendy Katten who is asking all parents to call Gery Chico's office to stop this travesty of removing class size caps-please do this as this will affect all students not just the students with disabilities.

    http://preaprez.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/wendy-katten-stop-the-isbes-attempts-to-end-class-size-limits-for-special-education-call-isbe-president-gery-chico/

  • What the class size cap means to a first grade teacher….

    http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2014/01/chicago.html

  • That its so true, I think that class size matters to all teachers. From first grade to special education classes. Less students means more time for the teacher to spend with each individual student. http://www.brightonauto.com/Repairs__Service_and_Parts.html

Leave a comment