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State government takes over special ed in Chicago

New York Teacher

The Illinois state Board of Education on May 16 assumed far-reaching authority over special education in Chicago’s public schools. The board appointed an outside monitor with approval power over changes to special education policy and procedures in the district.

The state’s action comes after officials concluded that a 2016 overhaul of Chicago’s special education practices violated federal law. The school district claimed the changes were necessary due to persistently low test scores for students with disabilities, insufficient oversight and a lack of consistent standards.

The Chicago Teachers Union had criticized those changes at the time.

“I want to know why they didn’t do anything to fix this problem for over a year when we brought them specific instances of this system being broken,” said Jesse Sharkey, the union’s vice president.

The district had opposed independent oversight but says it will work with the state monitor. The next step is a meeting between Chicago Public Schools and the Board of Education to chart a new course for special education in the city. 

Chicago Tribune, May 17

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