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Campaign: Special Education Staffing

CPS Special Education Issues

Sun-Times front page with headline about CPS nursing shortage. Click link to read article.In May 2018, after a months-long investigation, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) found that CPS has systemically violated special education laws over the last two years. ISBE appointed a monitor to oversee reforms that should have started this school year. But advocates continue to hear that problems with special education service persist. At the same time, CTU certified school nurses have reported a chronic crisis in staffing for the health care needs of our students — reports that have begun breaking in local news outlets, including Channel 7 and the Sun-Times.

The CTU has worked closely over the last three years with a committed group of advocates to demand better for our students. Now, CPS has been forced to release more funds for special education for schools throughout the city. Use the information below to advocate for your principal to claim and properly use the funds CPS has been forced to allot.

Using our contract for SPED workload reduction funding and usage: Article 45-4.7

Per Article 21-13 of our contract, the CTU and CPS are continuing to negotiate over the details and procedures for implementing a Workload Plan for Special Educators to help alleviate the burden of paperwork, special education job duties and caseloads. To date, we’ve only come to agreement over the procedure for dispersing funds to relieve special education workload issues in schools (Article 45-4.7). Click here to download an Excel spreadsheet of the allocation made in 2019-20 to each school. Special education staff – including special education teachers, clinicians and case managers – should meet to determine the best use of funds within each school. The full procedure is outlined below. CPS has issued a memo to principals regarding the allocations, which you may find useful, as well.

Suggested Uses of Funds

Special education staffs can choose to use the funds received as they see fit as long as the plan helps to decrease the workload of special education teachers and clinicians and is developed through the procedure below. Some suggestions for fund use include but are not limited to:

  • Substitute teacher coverage for a day to free up teachers to work on special education paperwork and duties (i.e. IEP reports, ESY, scheduling, completing assessments, etc.)
  • Substitute teacher coverage for classes so teachers can do evaluations, surveys or interviews with students in preparation for an IEP meeting.
  • Overtime for teachers to complete special education paperwork after school at their regular rate of pay or pay to conduct after school assessments.

Please stay in touch with CTU about this matter. Share your best ideas with CTU and colleagues at other schools. These funds are to help relieve the workload at the local level so do what works best for your school’s special education staff.

Procedure for Determining the Usage of Funds

Workload funds will be allocated to schools on per special education pupil basis. Special education pupil means any pupil with an IEP or a 504 plan. To obtain the per pupil amount, $500,000 per year will be divided by the total number of CPS students with IEPs or 504 plans.

Schools shall determine how workload funds are to be used as follows:

  • The special education teachers, clinical staff and the principal shall develop a plan for use of the funds to decrease the workload of special education teachers and clinicians. The plan must provide relieve to special education teachers and clinician workloads.
  • The special education teachers, case managers, clinicians and principal shall consult with and seek input from the PPLC on a plan for use of the funds.
  • In the event an agreement cannot be reached among special education teachers/clinicians or between teachers and the principal, the choices shall be put to a secret ballot vote by special education teachers and clinicians only, which shall be conducted in the same manner as a contract waiver vote (i.e., conducted by the Union delegate and certified by the delegate and principal). Nothing shall prohibit the school from having more than two choices and conducting run-off votes in the event a majority has not voted for one choice. The funds shall be expended in accordance with the choice of a majority of special education teachers and clinicians voting.

If it becomes necessary to have a vote to determine use of funds, please contact the Chicago Teachers Union and speak to your CTU Field Representative to discuss the voting.