CPS special ed parent and advocate Mary Fahey Hughes has long blended her encyclopedic knowledge of CPS special ed practice and federal law with fearless advocacy in order to make folks aware of what is going wrong in special education in Chicago Public Schools. She has spoken at board of ed meetings, accompanied parents to IEP meetings, written extensively about special ed, and appeared at every protest I’ve ever been to (and many more).
Another thing Hughes does to the same end is song parody videos. Her latest is in response to the outrageous revelations about Forrest Claypool’s extended problematic, secretive tinkering with (destruction of) special ed protocol in CPS.
Hughes brings her perspective as a longtime CPS special ed parent to bear on the question of what these reports imply for families in CPS. Today and tomorrow I will reblog her video and accompanying post from her blog, Isn’t That Illegal?
What follows is part one of her post, Fire the Liar: An Ode to Forrest Claypool.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed Forrest Claypool as CEO of Chicago Public Schools in July 2015. For the past several years, students, teachers, parents and advocates have endured blow after blow as Forrest Claypool and his minions attacked special education funding, staffing and services each school year with new and ever more diabolical schemes, procedures and policies that fly in the face of Federal Special Education Law. Bruised, exhausted and suffering, we stakeholders turned to each other in helpless disbelief, as the picture of what our kids’ educational opportunities should be (per Federal IDEA Law) turned into a picture of scarcity, powerlessness, and desperation, as our kids struggle without adequate supports in a city that places corporate profit over the well-being of its children.
A PROFESSIONAL HATCHET JOB
And then Sarah Karp’s story broke on WBEZ that, under Claypool, CPS paid $14 million to his accounting consultant cronies to address “inequity” in CPS special education.
Their answer to address this inequity was to develop a multi-pronged, layered attack designed to cut special education funding. Among those who lost out? Toddlers coming out of Early Intervention being denied IEPs after a ludicrously pared-down assessment process. A high schooler with an assessed developmental level of a 5-year-old being denied busing. Case managers being told to change IEPs without parental consent. Schools denied additional staff in the non-transparent special education staffing appeals process. These, of course, are just a few examples of the new policy and procedure consequences.
Claypool continues to try to discredit Ms. Karp’s impeccable reporting and insists that the erroneous conclusions reached in CPS’ white paper entitled Closing the Achievement Gap and Improving Outcomes for Students with Disabilities are the reason why CPS had to “overhaul” how it parses out special education services and funding in Chicago Public Schools.
A LOAD OF FLAMING EXCREMENT
This white paper is, to put it politely, a load of horse sh*t and, I assert, was created with the express purpose of providing CPS/Claypool a convenient excuse to bring in a team of funding gatekeepers (aka ODLSS Network Representatives) (aka Special Education Funding C@ckblockers) to carve away at the more costly special education services CPS provides to its neediest and most vulnerable students.
THE CPS SPECIAL ED FUNDING C@CKBLOCKERS
As only a small part of Claypool’s special education cost-cutting scheme, CPS now has a team of high-paid, midlevel-management Network Representatives whose jobs are to act as special education funding and service gatekeepers. There are good ones and bad ones.
The good ones:
- approve appropriate services (as determined by the Student’s IEP Team);
- approve busing service for any and all students with IEP’s who attend CPS;
- work with Principals on scheduling of Paraprofessional and SECA staff to ensure coverage of IEP minutes with the most efficient number of staff members within a given school; and
- approve necessary additional staffing to achieve full coverage of staffing set out in the IEP Minutes of ALL students in a given school, based on each IEP Team’s determination of student need.
The bad ones:
- override IEP Team decisions;
- make outrageous conclusions and spout their opinions about students with whom they have no direct knowledge in an effort to justify diminishing, delaying or denying services;
- insist on “MTSS-type” Special Education interventions prior to approving continued or additional paraprofessional support, even when the child has an IEP and their whole day (per their IEP) is filled with “MTSS-type” interventions that are currently inadequate to meet the child’s needs;
- use CPS’s truncated criteria to determine the eligibility for ESY (Summer School) and requiring duplicative and burdensome data collection to justify ESY placement;
- use CPS’s arbitrary and limiting criteria to determine eligibility for busing as a related service in order to justify removal or refusal of busing service from a child’s IEP;
- exclude parents from the IEP process by holding “pre-IEP meetings” with the school staff and clinician IEP Team members — where the Network Rep. states what services he will and will not approve and tells the school staff and clinicians to write their goals and accommodations within the constraints of what he has approved;
- hamstring the IEP Team from completing online input of certain staffing and services by blocking the ability to enter such services in the CPS computer system, setting certain default responses to “no,” and requiring Network Representative approval to move forward, causing delay or denial of IEP Team decisions.
- intimidate Special Education teachers who advocate for their students and make recommendations contrary to the wishes of the Network Representative by reporting their advocacy to the teacher’s Principal and demanding disciplinary action against said teacher.
- delay approval of services;
- arbitrarily deny services; and
- rumor has it, get job perks like new iPhones for keeping the numbers down on private placement, even when such placement is appropriate.
Tomorrow I will bring you the second part of Hughes’ post. For further reading, find critiques of the white paper by Troy LaRaviere, the Better Government Association, and Access Living in its annual review of the CPS budget.
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