CPS temporarily delays special education cuts

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Last Friday evening, Chicago Public Schools announced a plan to cut millions more from its special education budget. Today, at its monthly school board meeting, CPS says it will delay the cuts until it reevaluates every school's needs.

They provide a service that is required by federal law, yet jobs for many Chicago Public School special education teachers and assistants are in jeopardy with another round of budget cuts. CPS plans to slash an additional $12 million on top of $42 million in cuts announced earlier in the summer.

"These teachers are going to be taken, but these students will still be there without the service," says Troy LaRaviere, principal of Blaine Elementary.

LaRaviere says if the cuts go through, he will lose four Special Ed positions. Others took their concerns to the school board today, including Special Ed teacher Sarah Chambers.

"My school lost a position over the summer now we are not able to cover our students' legally-required minutes," Chambers says.

CPS officials insist the cuts are a result of declining enrollment. During the past 5 years, CPS says it has lost almost 3,000 Special Ed students while staff has remained the same. Parents disagree.

"My son's school lost four positions, they have no change in their enrollment there," said Wendy Katten of Raise Your Hand. "You are going to face lawsuits."

As Katten was speaking a board member was caught on a hot microphone whispering "Yes, we are." That is because federal law requires that every Special Ed student have an individualized education plan. That plan can't be met if there are not enough teachers but CPS CEO Forrest Claypool insists students' needs will be met.

"Over the next month we are going to be looking at every individual student plan and making sure that the parents and the principal of the school understand that it's met, and believe that it's met, and it will be," Claypool said.

If you are parent of a special needs student, Claypool says to contact CPS if you don't think your child is getting his or her services. Principals warn CPS to expect many calls because many say they barely have enough Special Ed staff to meet their students' needs right now.
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