For Immediate Release
Wednesday, May 16, 2018

State Board recommends corrective actions for Chicago Public Schools to improve special education services

State’s first-ever Public Inquiry concludes; 
road to transformation begins

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today recommended corrective actions for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to improve its special education services to students. The State Board found that specific CPS policies and practices violated the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which protects students’ right to a free and appropriate public education. The State Board will meet with CPS to begin mapping out expeditious implementation of the recommendations.  

View the State Board’s findings of law and corrective actions for CPS in the packet for today’s board meeting, beginning on page 74. 

“The corrective action and recommendations we offered today are the right first step to helping CPS fully serve all children and families,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “The common good requires uncommonly good public schools. With the State Board’s action today, the Public Inquiry process concludes, and the road to transformation begins.”

ISBE initiated the state’s first-ever Public Inquiry after receiving complaints about CPS’s special education services from parents and advocates. The Public Inquiry facilitated a fair and transparent fact-finding process, gathering substantial and detailed evidence from many sources. The final report contained 43 findings of fact upon which ISBE based its findings of law and its recommendations for corrective action. 

The corrective actions begin with the State Board appointing a special monitor to work with CPS to implement ISBE’s recommendations over the next three years. Changes to CPS’s special education policies and procedures will require review and approval by the monitor. ISBE will employ and pay the salary for the monitor. 

Other corrective actions recommended for CPS include:
  • Ensuring that the members of a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) team who are required to be present at IEP meetings to authorize decisions will be present at every IEP meeting;
  • Allowing IEP teams to determine paraprofessional support, extended school year, and transportation at IEP meetings;
  • Providing training to all staff regarding the use of the Student Services Management (SSM) system, an electronic program that guides users through a series of fillable forms designed to develop a complete IEP for a student, and the procedural manuals for using the SSM;
  • Ensuring the SSM and procedural guidelines are consistent at all times;
  • Working with ISBE to develop a data-driven approach to decision-making that will allow students to receive services in a timely manner;
  • Simplifying data collection forms;
  • Providing ISBE with the allocation/staffing formula used for the 2018-19 school year and working with ISBE to ensure the formula is clear and transparent;
  • Establishing an appeals process for budgeting that includes review by the ISBE-appointed monitor;
  • Engaging with stakeholder groups at regular intervals throughout the school year;
  • Providing training and communications to parents and guardians throughout the year regarding their rights, data-driven decision-making, the ISBE Parent’s Guide, and a list of free and low-cost legal services; 
  • Initiating a robust and transformative plan for training staff regarding federal and state special education laws, data-driven decision-making, and the SSM and procedural guidelines and drafting legally compliant IEPs. 
  • Working with ISBE to devise a plan to identify students whose services were delayed or denied and providing their parents and guardians the opportunity to pursue correction action.

ISBE will provide additional technical assistance and support as needed, including strengthening our role as the Regional Office of Education for CPS. 

ISBE will remain committed to transparency and will continue to post updates on the ISBE website at​