Aldermen Call For Claypool’s Ouster, Accuse CPS Of Stiffing Special Needs Kids

(CBS) — Calls for Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool to resign or be fired are growing louder, with some coming from city aldermen.

For more than an hour before Wednesday’s meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, members of the Chicago Teachers Union and parent advocacy group Raise Your hand rallied outside CPS headquarters, calling for Claypool to be fired.

At least one alderman echoed that sentiment.

“It’s time Forrest goes. Run, Forrest, run!” Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th) said, leading protesters in a chant.

Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) also said Claypool is not fit to lead the district, noting that money going to outside consultants will have doubled since 2012 if the school board approves Claypool’s latest request to increase to spending on consulting.

“It’s unconscionable, immoral, and illegal,” he said.

Critics said Claypool is trying to balance the district’s books on the backs of special needs students. That’s why they want him gone.

As CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports, the controversy surrounds special education funds and concerns that hundreds of children are deliberately being denied help.

Ryan Dempsey loves kindergarten at his Chicago public school. But that’s after his parents spent the last two years fighting CPS to get him the special education services he needs.

Katie Dempsey says those roadblocks began with attempts to get Ryan sufficient therapy for his severe neurological speech disorder.

They ended with mediation and CPS agreeing to pay $3,500 for compensatory services. It cost the Dempseys $15,000. CPS has paid them nothing.

The Sun-Times has reported, at the same time Claypool is cutting services to special needs kids, he is seeking a $2.5 million increase payments in to outside consultants to about $28 million.

“He has the audacity to ask for millions of dollars for consultant fees to help him. Teachers don’t need consultants. Teachers need books,” Garza said.

Parents and the union said the money Claypool is spending on consultants should be going to special needs students like Ryan Dempsey.

“Stop cutting special education funding. Our children need it,” CPS parent Felicia Williams said.

Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) said he’s personally met with two dozen parents battling similar issues as the Dempsey family. He said CPS is deliberately diverting funds away from these families.

Waguespack and fellow aldermen have repeatedly asked Claypool to testify before the City Council to explain the funding and millions paid to special education consultants. Claypool’s been a no-show.

Critics said the outflow of money to consultants likely will stop only with Claypool’s ouster.

“We’re paying these consultants $14 million to tell us basically be bean counters, and say here’s how you can save some money at the expense of children,” Munoz said.

A CPS spokesperson conceded school-based funding has dropped, adding CPS will continue to work to improve the process.

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