Students with special needs left without critical resources as Chicago teachers strike

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Students with special needs and their parents are facing unforeseen challenges as Chicago Public Schools teachers take to the picket lines, leaving them without critical resources.

Seven-year-old Phil Saylor's teachers are on strike at Michael M. Byrne Elementary in Chicago's Clearing neighborhood. Phil's older brother also joined the rally.

RELATED: Chicago Teachers Strike: Thousands of teachers hit picket lines across city, CPS classes canceled

Phil spent Thursday with his mom, who's a Chicago Public Schools teacher.

Crystle Saylor is a special education teacher at Tilden Academy. When Phil is out of school, Saylor said she needs to keep him close as he's on the autism spectrum.

"What am I going to do, put them in a park where no one knows them?" Saylor said.

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She credits the speech therapist at Byrne for helping her son communicate better.

"That work needs to continue in order to get rid of the lateralization, the slushiness that you hear and that takes time," Saylor said. "And we're taking that time away from him."

Saylor said the strike is about getting more help for her kids and all her students.

"Our students are living through trauma every day and they come in hungry or homeless," Saylor said. "And we are social workers and nurses all at once as a teacher."

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot said CPS classes have been canceled until the teachers agree to a contract and end the strike.

Phil said he wants to return to school.

When asked why, he said "because we don't get to learn, and we will have to spend longer in school."
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