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Chicago: SPED: 'Vast majority of school districts do not have adequate resources'

Mar 15, 2018, WTTW, Chicago, IL: ISBE Announces Hearings on CPS Special Education Practices State education officials interested in examining Chicago Public Schools’ special education offerings will kick off a series of open hearings this month after families, stakeholders and a media report stoked concerns of possible “systemic issues” late last year. The Illinois State Board of Education announced Thursday it has scheduled three hearings in its first-ever public inquiry into the district’s special education services, beginning Tuesday at the University of Chicago’s Kent College of Law. “The Public Inquiry process facilitates fair and transparent fact-finding on a matter of public concern,” ISBE wrote in a statement. “The Public Inquiry seeks to determine the facts surrounding the stated concerns while maintaining the focus on the students.” The hearings continue Wednesday, with a final session scheduled March 27. All begin at 9 a.m. inside the Kent College of Law auditorium. Special education advocates say the district has discouraged principals from funding special education students’ Individual Education Plans, and has pitted students against each other by lumping special education and general education funding together. … “What the profiles do not show, however, are the hard choices and sacrifices school districts have had to make in terms of academic opportunity in order to maintain fiscal solvency,” State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith said in a statement. “Preliminary Evidence-Based Funding numbers show the vast majority of school districts do not have adequate resources. When school districts are forced to sacrifice academic opportunity, the state loses out on tremendous human capital.”

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