Byrd Bennett keeps a promise... Kelvyn Park gets additional special ed teachers after complaining to the Board of Education

The following was the presentation made to the Chicago Board of Education by Shawn Meade about Kelvyn Park High School on November 14, 2012. Although it took an additional three weeks, CPS officials did keep the promise made by the latest "Chief Executive Officer" at the November 14 Board meeting, and the school has received some relief from the shortage of special education teachers that CPS had foisted on the school. Substance notes that the problem has only been partly solved, and that the students who were entitled by law to those services were deprived of their rights for a third of the school year.

Dear Members of the Chicago Board of Education, I am Shawn Meade, speaking on behalf of the entire Kelvyn Park Special Education Department about the following policies which are harming our SPED students:

1. Inappropriate Programming of Students

Kelvyn Park SPED students continue to be negatively affected by the inappropriate and excessive number of program changes experienced thus far this year. For example: SPED students were frequently placed in inappropriate classes for the first quarter of the school year. Some are still improperly placed.

Appropriate schedules for SPED teachers were not available when we reported to school on August 27. Schedules have been changed several times during the first quarter. There are still significant mismatches between students, classes, teachers and IEP requirements.

SPED students bean the school year in restrictive environments due to inappropriate programming in violation of federal Least Restrictive Environment requirements. For example, students with severe disabilities were inappropriately placed in general education classes without appropriate services; and SPED students were inappropriately placed in English as a Second Language classes.

The excessive number of schedule changes has made evaluation and grading of students difficult or impossible, negatively impacting delivery of services.

2. Lack of Teachers

Over a dozen small SPED and inclusion classes had no permanent teacher for up to two months; several classes still have no qualified SPED services, making it difficult or impossible to evaluate progress and develop appropriate interventions for classroom teachers to ensure student success, as well as difficult or impossible to write meaningful, individualized goals for success, as well as difficult or impossible to write meaningful, individualized goals for students. The lack of qualified SPED teachers delivering required services to SPED students is illegal, unethical and invites legitimate lawsuits demanding compensatory services.

3. Undue Burdens imposed on SPED Department Leaders

On the SPED Department Chair: Instead of hiring needed SPED teachers; the Kelvyn Park Department Chair is now covering classes where no teacher has been assigned, contrary to guarantees of adequate planning time. The chair is now teaching 6 classes. .

On the SPED Case manager: The Kelvyn Park SPED Case Manager is a full-time job, but has been assigned three classes to teach in addition to setting up meetings and notifying participants, processing all SPED meeting paperwork, presiding over all IEP meetings, as well as taking the lead on contentious manifestation meetings.

We are asking the Board’s assistance to remedy these policies that are harming the education of our most vulnerable and needy students. Thank you.

REPORTER'S Notes. After Shawn Meade presented this report to the CPS Board of Education Barbara Byrd Bennett stated that she would send someone out to the school to talk to the Special Education staff before the holidays and December 5, Shawn Meade verified that Byrd Bennett did send someone out to the school last week. Rebecca Clark, who is with SPED for that region, came to the school and met with the administrator and SPED department. She told them that she was thankful that the staff brought their concerns up with the CPS Board. She did wish that they had gone through proper channels. As a result, two new teachers started teaching SPED at Kelvyn High Monday, Dec. 3, and the school received a new Case Manager. The former Case Manager is now one of the two new teachers hired and will remain in the classroom. Compensatory services will be offered to the students that did not receive services. They will be offered summer school or after school tutoring.


December 7, 2012 at 6:30 PM

By: Rod Estvan

Kelvyn Park fixed... more to go

I commend Shawn Meade for his presentation. I do not have that latest data but as of Nov 15 CPS still had a lot of unfilled special education positions.

I came up with 143 unfilled special education positions. Back in August there were 310 unfilled special education positions. So CPS has been able to fill 54% of its unfilled special education positions from the start of the school year to Nov 15. But 143 is still a lot of empty positons that far into the school year.

Rod Estvan

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