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Campaign: Special Education

Take Action: Special Education Cuts and Vacancies

Petition to Rescind Special Ed Cuts and Fill Vacancies with Displaced Special Ed Teachers

To: Janice Jackson, Chief Executive Officer; LaTanya McDade, Chief Education Officer; Stephanie Jones, Chief of Diverse Learner Supports and Services; Rebecca Parker, Deputy Chief of Diverse Learner Supports and Services and Kaitlyn Girard, Labor Relations Officer

CPS currently has approximately 300 unfilled special education positions. This is unacceptable and harms CPS’ special education students directly. Research from the Chicago Teachers Union has identified Stagg Elementary School as having ​no certified special education staff for the 2019-2020 school year​. The research has also identified 50 schools that are having special education funding cuts and loss of positions ranging from $30,000 to $365,000. These 50 schools represent schools that have been historically underfunded and under resourced. They are schools with some of our most vulnerable and high needs students.

The above mentioned cuts were made by CPS without consultation with CTU, which is required by the current collective bargaining agreement. Article 21-20 of the Agreement between the Board of Education and the Chicago Teachers Union states:

“The Board shall provide centralized funding for special education teacher positions. ​The Board shall develop a process to evaluate and adjust funding allocations for special education teacher and paraprofessional positions. The Joint Committee will develop a timeline and provide input into the process to evaluate and adjust funding allocation for special education positions.​”

As we head into the 2020-21 school year, during a pandemic and implementing remote learning for the safety of all, these positions need to be filled and current cuts to special education need to be rescinded in order for our special education students to receive the appropriate services they deserve. We call on CPS to fill vacancies with any recently displaced special education teachers and to increase its recruitment efforts with local universities and programs like Grow Your Own Illinois. We also call on CPS to immediately rescind the current special education funding and position cuts at all schools and that CPS and ODLSS immediately convene with CTU and abide by Article 21-20 of the agreement ratified by The Board of Education and CTU.

Make Your Voice Heard

CPS has about 300 unfilled special education positions while some special education teachers are displaced without work. Meanwhile, 50 schools are seeing special education funds and positions cut. Demand that CPS fill these vacancies with teachers who are displaced and rescind their funding cuts.

Fill in your information to join other signers of this petition to Janice Jackson, CEO; LaTanya McDade, Chief Ed Officer; Stephanie Jones, Chief of Diverse Learner Supports and Services; and Kaitlyn Girard, Labor Relations Officer to Rescind Special Ed Cuts and Fill Vacancies with Displaced Special Ed Teachers.

Ongoing Staffing Issues

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, $2,500,000 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.