CPS lacks inclusion of special education classroom assistants, BGA investigation finds

ByTyra Whitney WLS logo
Saturday, September 24, 2022
CPS lacks inclusion of special education classroom assistants, BGA investigation finds
An investigation by the BGA found Chicago Public Schools lack inclusion of special education classroom assistants in its decision-making process.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Better Government Association is investigating complaints that the school system is lacking inclusion of classroom assistants in the decision-making process.

Chicago Public Schools' policy states special education classroom assistants can be invited to individualized education program meetings - a legally required conference for students with disabilities.

But local activists and parents tell the BGA this policy isn't widely known or enforced, and some think CPS discourages the assistants from participating.

"Special Education Classroom assistants are paraprofessionals that work with students with disabilities," BGA education reporter Jewél Jackson said. "They're not only the ones that are there with academic learning, helping those students complete their lessons but they're the constant presence and force in these students' lives throughout the day."

ABC7 Chicago reached out to CPS, who say "through the Office of Diverse Learners Supports and Services (ODLSS,) the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) works to ensure that students in need of special education services have access to the educational resources and programming to help them succeed. To that end, ODLSS welcomes and encourages parents/guardians to involve their students' Special Education Teacher Assistants (SECAs) in IEP meetings. Per the CPS Procedural Manual, (page 46) Special Education Teacher Assistants ("SECAs") may be invited to attend IEP meetings at the request of the parent or guardian. To date, in SY 2022-SY2023, 1,000 IEP meetings have included SECAs who have signed in using the job title of SECA, paraprofessional, or special education classroom assistant.

The District posts its policies and procedures online so parents can access them at any given time.