Scroll down to sign the petition to support veteran school clerk Judy Mahoney! Judy has worked for CPS as a bilingual school clerk for almost 30 years, 23 of which she served as Whittier Elementary’s beloved school clerk — until an uninsured drunk driver hit her head on in 2017, paralyzing her from the waist down.
Judy vowed not to let this catastrophe destroy her, and worked extremely hard to learn how to live again and return to Whittier and the students and staff she loved. Those hopes were shattered when CPS denied her request for accommodations at Whittier because the school is not wheelchair accessible — three decades after the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed.
In January of 2018, CPS at last placed Judy at Byrne Elementary, which is wheelchair accessible and where she’s built a great relationship with the school community. Judy’s colleagues at both schools have called her a treasure — exactly the kind of veteran clerk who our school communities need. But after three years at Byrne, CPS will lay Judy off at the end of June because the Central Office is ending funding of her salary and Byrne cannot afford her — even though they need her. If Judy’s accident had occurred while working in an accessible school, she would not be facing joblessness today.
Byrne has a student who uses a wheelchair — and when she first met Judy, she saw someone like her, living life, being productive, and finding the joy in the day even in the face of adversity. Judy is only 49 years old and still has years of excellent service and a powerful positive example of resilience and determination to offer to our students. Like every school clerk, she’s an anchor in her school community who has proven that she can do her job effectively from her wheelchair. She doesn’t want charity, she simply wants to continue to work and earn an honest living.
Tell Mayor Lightfoot, CEO Jackson and the CPS Board of Education it’s time for the District to live up to their avowed standards of equity and equality and allow Judy to continue to serve Byrne students and fellow staff with dignity. The very least CPS owes Judy is the right to continue working at Byrne, without fear that Central Office will defund her position and fire her, simply because she had the misfortune to suffer a catastrophic accident that the school district COULD accommodate, if they were not in sweeping violation of the ADA’s mandate for publicly accessible school buildings.
Dr. Jackson and Chief McDade, take one more step for equity and justice before you leave our school district. Agree to allow Central Office to continue funding Judy’s position. Recommit to making EVERY CPS school building wheelchair accessible for the coming school year. Mayor Lightfoot and Board members, ensure that no student or educator has to suffer the compounded trauma and uncertainty not just of a catastrophic accident, but of a school district that fails to celebrate, welcome and retain committed school community members like Judy.