New Law Helps Sick Students Who Need Schooling At Home Or Hospital

CHICAGO (CBS) — Children recovering from surgery or an illness often wait weeks, even months, before they get any help with schoolwork, which often causes them to be held back in school.

CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports on a new law aimed at solving the problem.

Twelve-year-old Kyran Houston is doing homework, getting ready to head back to school.

He’s been out of the classroom since last November, when he underwent major reconstructive bladder surgery. And even though schools are required to provide students like him with home- or hospital-based instruction during recovery, he went almost three months without any instruction at all.

“I would call the school and ask them what’s going on. They scheduled for a teacher to come out. Then something happened where the teacher couldn’t come out,” Kyran’s mother, Tiffany, said. “That just kept going on and on.”

It was a statewide problem attorney Amy Zimmerman came across again and again.

“For some school districts that meant children waiting up until the time their recuperation was over,” she said. “So, they never got the services.”

Her organization, with help from parents like Houston, fought to get rid of that education gap and to keep other, sick students from falling behind.

And last month, Gov. Quinn signed legislation that should help.

First, schools now have five days to provide home or hospital instruction after getting a doctor’s note about an extended absence. Special education services must continue. Also, schools are required to provide an hour of tutoring a day.

So what should parents do if they still get the runaround?

Zimmerman’s advice is to approach the school district superintendent. If that doesn’t work, she recommends filing a complaint with the Illinois State Board of Education.

  • Susie

    I cannot sign my real name but this is the best thing I have heard in my 25 plus years of teaching. I have worked home bound in addition to my regular class. (Many of the students was in my regular class.) I also did homebound teaching for girls that had babies. Most of these girls were at home however, a few lived in shelters. After a period of time, the rules changed and not for the best. Some teachers had 3 or more students, some teachers were not visiting the homes but were filling in the time sheets, some teachers could not get any students at all, some case managers keep ALL of the home bound students for themselves, there were ALWAYS PROBLEMS WITH THE PAYROLL DEPARTMENT WITH CPS and of course, the principals would give homebound students to their friends and cronies. However, some students were not SERVICED AT ALL. Years ago, there was a boy that had cancer. The counslor did not like me and she would not assign him to me. Nobody else in the school wanted to go to his home for various reasons. I was fully qualified and had an application on file.I am also endorsed in physically handicapped. I became acquianted with the family and I talked to them many times but the counslor refused to give this family a homebound teacher but the saddest part was, the principal went alone with it. I left the school but I have always wondered what happened to that sweet little boy. I offered to help him for free but was told any assignment I brought back to the school would not be applied to his grade because he did not have a homebound teacher. I do not do homebound teaching now but when I was doing it, I really enjoyed working the students and their family. There is a home hospital department in CPS. I tried for 14 consecutive years to get in but was told by another teacher that those jobs are reserved for women with clout or for the girlfriends of somebody. That appears to be true because those jobs are never posted in the bulletin.

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  • Kelly

    I am a social worker in a Chicago Hospital and I can promise you home based services for children through CPS is a joke. The paperwork is sent in and almost always lost delaying the services for weeks. When you call to followup, you interact with some of the most ignorant, rude and incompetent staff you can imagine. Months later when they do assign a teacher to the child, many of the teachers show up late and stay less then half the time. They always make sure they get their time card signed by the family though. The CPS needs an outside source to come in and completely overhaul the system for they are failing children miserably.

    • Lyndia

      I agree with you completely Kelly. This problem will only stop when parents speak up but many of them do not know their rights. Principals should want to assist any ill or hospitialized child in their school to not only educate the child but to also make them feel like they are part of their educational community. Many of them do not do that because “the child is not in school and we have to keep our scores up.” That is their only concern. Additionally, there are many retired teachers that can and will do homebound but they only allow working teachers to work those assignments. There use to be a school (Spaulding) that was designed for students that were ill or physically handicapped. It was an EXCELLENT SCHOOL for students with special needs but CPS closed it and put the handicapped and ill children in regular schools with no ramps or elevators. The CPS leave a lot to be desired.
      Yes they are rude, ignorant and EXTREMELY INCOMPETENT. Many of the principals are too.

  • Jill

    As a parent with a special needs child, we so often don’t know our rights. I am so appreciative that there are organizations and advocates like Amy Zimmerman to remind us of our rights and guide us of where we should turn.

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