Last week, the Union received a favorable decision in the arbitration of a grievance concerning excessive paperwork for special education teachers. The grievance, which arose at Washington High School, concerned additional paperwork requirements that CPS began to impose on special education teachers in 2016 as part of former CPS CEO Forrest Claypool’s scheme to deny students special education services.

ISBE determined in 2018 this scheme was illegal and appointed a state monitor to oversee special education in CPS after an investigation prompted by response to the outcry and hard work done by CTU members, parents and advocates.

Two special education teachers at Washington filed the grievance after CPS unilaterally changed the paraprofessional justification process and began to require special education teachers to collect 80 different data points as part of the process. The teachers began to document how much additional work this involved over the course of the time it was in place, and were able to establish that it involved 40 extra hours of work each year during the time the requirement was in effect.

The grievance, amongst other things, contended that this amounted to a violation of Article 44-21 of the CTU contract, which provides that CPS cannot require bargaining unit employees complete additional paperwork that is not legally required without mitigating the additional paperwork by eliminating other paperwork or clerical responsibilities assigned to the employees. The arbitrator agreed with the Union that CPS failed to do that in this case, and, as such, that the special education teachers who filed the grievance were entitled to be paid at their non-instructional rate for each hour of additional work they had to complete due to the paraprofessional justification form. This amounted to approximately $2,000 for each member.

Attorney Kurtis Hale from Poltrock & Poltrock handled the grievance in arbitration. The Union and our rank-and-file special education leaders will be working in the coming weeks to determine next steps on how to broadly leverage the impact of this important precedent to benefit as many members as possible.