CHICAGO (CBS) — Indrira Arenas’ 3-year-old son Esai is spending too much time at his daycare.
Not because the preschooler loves it so much, but because his single, working mom can’t regularly get him to his Chicago Public School preschool class, CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports.
“The only days I could take him to school would be the days I have off work, Tuesdays and every other Monday,” Arenas says.
Esai has Williams Syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder. He qualified for special education services in CPS and was assigned to a school to get those services.
Until this year, CPS bussed all preschoolers like Esai. But this summer, CPS yanked transportation from almost all those preschoolers, leaving hundreds of families with no way to get their children to school.
“Some of these parents have no access to cars. Public transportation is difficult for them. They have multiple means of public transportation,” said Amy Zimmerman of the Legal Council for Health Justice.
Children’s advocates say the abrupt CPS policy change isn’t just a potential dagger to these diverse learners’ development.
“For them not to get that service, it’s going to impact their future,” said Esther Elena Ruiz, a social worker at the Erie Neighborhood House. “It’s that simple.”
Amy Zimmerman says it’s also illegal.
“We are hopeful that CPS corrects this before we have to file any legal action, but we are preparing to file legal action, unfortunately,” Zimmerman says.
Exactly why the change was made isn’t clear, but advocates guess it’s to save money.
But tonight, a CPS spokesperson said the district is aware of the concerns and will resume bussing its pre-kindergarten diverse learners to their assigned schools. When, however, the spokesperson didn’t say. It’s expected to be brought up at Wednesday’s school board meeting.