Chicago parents push to save wheelchair-bound school clerk's position at Byrne Elementary

Karen Jordan Image
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Chicago parents push to save wheelchair-bound school clerk Judy Mahoney's job at Byrne Elementary
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There's a push to save the job of CPS clerk Judy Mahoney at Byrne Elementary on Chicago's Southwest Side.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As a CPS school clerk, Judy Mahoney is the heartbeat of the building, the go-to in the main office for any students, parents and staff who need assistance.

"You must like helping others because you've gotta be there at their beck and call," said Mahoney.

Now they are coming to her aid and fighting for her job.

Mahoney is currently a clerk at Byrne Elementary in Garfield Ridge on the Southwest Side but her days are numbered.

"I was told that if I didn't find a school within the system by June of 2021, I would be laid off," said Mahoney.

Mahoney uses a wheelchair. In 2017, she was paralyzed from the waist down after a drunk driver slammed into her car.

When she was ready to return to work, the school building at Whittier Elementary was not wheelchair accessible.

So she was hired at Byrne as one of two clerks but according to CPS, hers was always a temporary position.

So the Chicago Teacher's Union is circulating a petition to draw attention to Mahoney's situation.

"I'm calling on CPS to fund Judy Mahoney's position at Byrne next year and for as long as she chooses to serve CPS and families at Byrne school," said parent Samantha Sokol.

Mahoney said CPS has been sending her lists of clerk positions that will be available next year but that many of the buildings are not wheelchair accessible.

"It is greatly concerning to me that the people who made a decision to treat Judy this way are the same people who are making decisions on behalf of children in the city of Chicago," aid Ald. Silvana Tavares, 23rd Ward.

Late Tuesday afternoon CPS said they informed Mahoney that her position at Byrne will be extended through next year if roles at other available schools do not work out.