By Steve Miller

(WBBM Newsradio) — A federal civil-rights lawsuit filed against the Chicago Public Schools says thousands of students with disabilities have been denied special education services.

Parents of the children have filed the class-action suit, and the Chicago-based advocacy group Equip for Equality is behind it. The organization says thousands of children have missed special education they need because CPS has not provided qualified foreign-language interpreters for the parents of those children.

Olga Pribyl of Equip for Equality gives the example of a 4-year-old girl whose mother attended a meeting to determine the girl’s eligibility for special education.

“She didn’t have translated documents or a competent interpreter at the meeting, and her daughter was not found eligible for services.  But she really needed these services.

“So, it wasn’t until 17 months later, when she was represented by an attorney, that she finally got her daughter to be found eligible.”

Pribyl says more than 40 percent of CPS special education students live in a home where English is not the first language.

In a statement, CPS says: “Every child who attends a CPS school deserves a high quality education that meets their unique needs, and we have committed to a comprehensive review of our special education program to ensure our students and families receive the best possible services.

“We are reviewing these claims, and we will move quickly to make any additional reforms that would improve services and supports for our diverse learners.”

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