Union House of Delegates issues no confidence vote in Stephanie Jones–CPS’ Chief of the Office of Diverse Learners Supports and Services –after revelations of continued illegal use of physical restraints on students with disabilities
CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) on Wednesday called for the ouster of CPS’ Chief of the Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services (ODLSS), Stephanie Jones, for her dismal failures to protect the district’s most vulnerable students, continued violation of special education laws and the creation of a toxic workplace that has left the department in shambles and unable to fulfill its legally-required mandate to support students with disabilities.
The CTU House of Delegates, the union’s democratically elected governing body, took a no confidence vote Wednesday evening and called for Jones to resign or for CPS CEO Pedro Martinez to fire her.
The vote comes just days after it was revealed that in November, the state found the district continues to violate state law by imposing physical restraints on students despite a directive to halt the practice until staff are adequately and appropriately trained in its use. In a letter to Martinez, the Illinois State Board of Education said, “CPS’ complete disregard for the health and safety of its students and blatant violation of state law is unconscionable.”
At the HOD meeting, numerous special education teachers, clinicians and service providers detailed Jones’ flagrant mishandling of the special education department, including failing to provide recovery services to students who suffered an education gap during the pandemic and deficient staff training in restraint practices, among other lapses.
CTU President Stacy Davis Gates said. “Tonight our members said, enough. Enough with the lack of services and support, enough with ignoring the needs of our students, and enough with violating state law.”
CPS’ special education department continues to be overseen by a state monitor, imposed after the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) found CPS deliberately denied and delayed services to students for the years 2016 – 2018.
“Clinicians in CPS have been faced with a consistent lack of managerial support because our managers have essentially been run out by the chief of ODLSS,” Alyssa Rodriquez, a citywide social worker, said. “We face extended wait times to get support in crisis situations, extreme turnover and inadequate training, which trickles down to our ability to serve our students.”