Chicago City Council’s Progressive Caucus forces CPS to finally act on special needs positions.


Dad and son attend and speak at special education mtg . This boy has been listening throughout the last couple hours. Photo: Alderman Scott Waguespack.

The parents weren’t leaving.

Neither was the press.

One veteran observer tried to explain to me how rare it was for 3 TV cameras to be present covering a Council education committee hearing on Friday afternoon of a holiday weekend.

“Extremely rare,” they said.

This was all the result of the Chicago’s Progressive Caucus demanding – and after long delays, getting – a hearing on cuts to special education positions enacted under former CEO, Forrest Claypool.

The Caucus wanted hearings since WBEZ’s Sarah Karp’s report. last October.

A WBEZ investigation into that 2016 (sped) overhaul found officials relied on a set of guidelines — developed behind closed doors and initially kept secret — that resulted in limiting services for special education students, services like busing, one-on-one aides, and summer school. This overhaul was orchestrated by outside auditors with deep ties to CPS CEO Forrest Claypool. They had no expertise in special education.

The Progressive Caucus was stonewalled since their initial request.

Finally hearings were scheduled for yesterday afternoon and then amazingly, just two hours before the start of the hearings, CPS’ new CEO, Janice Jackson, announced 65 new special education positions.

Like magic.

These positions could have/should have been filled at the start of the school year. It is criminal it took this long to do it.


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