CHICAGO (CBS) — There is supposed to be a law to help special needs students make up for learning time lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, but some parents and advocates say Chicago Public Schools’ rollout of the new rule is causing more disruption to their education.
CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas went out to ask the district for answers.READ MORE: Benet Academy Decides To Hire Amanda Kammes As Lacrosse Coach After Rescinding Job Offer Because She Is Married To A Woman
Brian Yarbrough spent Tuesday painting and laminating pictures of his favorite characters, like Johnny Cage and Sub-Zero from “Mortal Kombat.”
Yarbrough has autism, and his mom, Masheetta Lindsey, says he should be in school. Yarbrough himself agrees.
“Sometimes I hear him sobbing. And then, when I ask what’s wrong, (he says), ‘Why can’t I go to school?” Lindsey said. “I have no answers for that.”
Yarbrough’s school year at Al Raby High School, 3545 W. Fulton Blvd., was cut short last year because he turned 22 in March — which is a year too old to be a CPS student.
But in late July, Gov. JB Pritzker signed a new law to allow special needs students who recently turned 22 to return this year – for a do-over year after the pandemic wreaked havoc on special education.
“That was actually a lifeline, because I’m really hoping I can get him back in school,” Lindsey said.
Lindsey said she started calling the district as soon as the law was passed, trying to reenroll her son and figure out when he could return.
“I was given the runaround,” she said.READ MORE: Tony Landers Charged In Attack On Ald. James Cappleman After Alderman Confronted Men Who Were Drinking In Public In Uptown
But days into the school year, she hasn’t gotten answers.
“This is across the board,” Lindsey said. “I’m quite sure he’s not the only one that hasn’t been informed of whether or not he’s going to able to return to school.”
We asked Chicago Public Schools about the holdup. After all, the law was passed because special needs students already missed out on so much.
The district directed us to a letter they sent to eligible families with a form to fill out and mail back. But the letters didn’t get sent until Aug. 30 — the day everyone else already started school.
“So they’re delayed in starting and getting back to the programming they need,” said Emily Wilson, a staff attorney with Equip For Equality. “It’s really disheartening. We know this is really difficult for families. There’s a lot to figure out especially for students who were already exited in the spring.”
Lindsey said since the start of e-learning, Yarbrough has been asking when the last day of the pandemic is. When she says she doesn’t know, he asks why?
They both have plenty of questions.
We asked the district why they didn’t send out the letters ahead of the school year, and when Yarbrough might be able to start…we have not gotten answers.MORE NEWS: Man Shot, Killed During Home Invasion In South Shore; 4 People In Custody
They did say they are following all requirements under the new laws and they’re following up with Lindsey directly.