Reporting Craig Dellimore
CHICAGO (CBS) – The head of the Chicago Public School system has been trying to reassure parents of students with special needs that they won’t suffer if their current schools are consolidated or closed.
WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports parents and some aldermen have expressed concerns, but CPS Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett said special education students and those with counselors will keep the same teachers and support staff, even if they change schools.
“We don’t anticipate that there’d be this huge turnover of teachers that children who have diverse learning needs don’t know, and would be traumatized. No, that is just simply not fact,” she said.
Byrd-Bennett said, by law, teachers and resources for students with individualized education plans must follow the kids from a closed school to the new one.
“For those youngsters, their individual education plan clearly defines the resources and the services that those children need in order to be successful, and we’re obliged by federal law,” she said. “And quite frankly if we weren’t obliged by federal law, I would force everyone to do it; those children deserve the kind of equity of opportunity that we want for all of our kids, so those services and mandated resources go with that child.”
She said the district has also committed students who receive “wraparound services” – programs for children with the most serious emotional and behavioral problems – will get the same counselors and other community resources at their new schools.
Byrd-Bennett said those kids will continue to work with the same people they know already.
“Particularly the people that they know; and we have a … shortage, if you will, of special needs teachers anyway,” she said.
Byrd-Bennett is the guest on WBBM’s “At Issue” this weekend, and you can hear more about the school closings plan on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.