BOARDWATCH: Chicago Board of Education meeting of September 29, 2015 highlighted by large public protests against latest budget lies before the Board doubles down on its privatization and austerity agenda for the 2015 - 2016 school year...

Chicago Board of Education member Mahalia Hines and Board President Frank Clark during the September 29, 2015 meeting of the Board. Substance photo by David Vance.The first meeting of the Chicago Board of Education during the 2015 - 2016 school year was tumultuous, as hundreds of people protested cuts in the schools -- especially cuts in special education services -- while the newly appointed Chicago Board of Education President Frank Clark and the new "Chief Executive Officer" Forrest Claypool showed they will do almost anything to gag public critics of their draconian cuts.

The cuts in the city's real public schools are massive, but their agenda is the massive privatization of public services.

Those at the Board meeting were reminded that Clark was one of the architects of the largest school closings in U.S. history (50 schools closed by a vote of the Board at its May 2013 meeting; Clark chaired the commission that recommended the closings), while Claypool has been forcing the privatization of public services in Chicago since his days at the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Transit Authority.

Even facing those histories, many observers were stunned by the ways in which the new CPS leadership team, appointed in July by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, worked to shut down and shut up critics, while coddling those who spoke on behalf of the Board's privatization policies -- especially the expansion of charter schools during a time when CPS is supposedly facing unprecedented austerity.

And so, the Chicago Board of Education held its regular monthly meeting (a week later than usual) on Tuesday, September 29, 2015. The reason given was that Yom Kippur took place on the same day as the normally scheduled Board Meeting. The meeting took place at the usual location at the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) latest Loop Offices, in the old Sears store at 42 West Madison Street.

Alderman Scott Waguespak told the Board that he has been visiting schools in his ward and documenting the illegal cuts of special education services. He warned the Board that the violations of federal law will result in lawsuits that will cost the Board more than it would have cost to provide the legally required services today. Substance photo by David Vance. Before the meeting began, Jadine Chou, Chief Safety and Security Officer, presented information on safety procedures for all to follow while present and in case of an "emergency." It only became clear as the meeting went on and a growing number of speakers were stifled or not allowed to speak at all that the "security" plan announced by Chou was to secure the Board members from the Board's critics and keep as many of the potential speakers as possible from the video report on the Board meeting.

After the Pledge to the Flag, roll call indicated all Board members were present: Mark F. Furlong, Dominique Jordan Turner, Vice-President Jesse Ruiz, President Frank Clark, Dr. Mahalia A. Hines, Gail D. Ward, and Rev. Michael G. Garanzini, S. J. Also present were Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Forrest Claypool, Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson, and Cheryl Colson, Assistant to CEO Forrest Claypool. Colson was serving as a kind of interim General Counsel, since Claypool had forced the resignation of the former General Counsel, James Bebley, a month earlier.

The "Honoring Excellence" portion of the meeting was introduced by Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson. Poe Classical School was honored for perfect attendance on the first day of school (and the second and the third). Poe is a "Level 1 school" which selects its students. Principal Dockery spoke, followed by sixth-grader Bailey Boone, and Juan Alvarez, who said Poe is considered the "Harvard of the south side."

Next, Payton High School was honored because a student, Clare (the Board only allowed the first name), had suffered cardiac arrest in the pool, and was saved by another student, Meredith. The swimming coach at Payton was honored for his support of Clare and the follow-up activities and materials he introduced. Clare is now helping to coach the swimming team, he said.

Board President Clark said "Teachers do so much," at the conclusion of the "Honoring Excellence" part of the meeting.

Markay Winston, the "Chief Officer" for the CPS "Office of Diverse Learners Supporter Services" (OODLSS) presented a Power Point which tipped off the attentive public to the stall and sabotage tactics to be used this school year by CPS while doing massive cuts to special ed services. After cutting to the point where it is impossible for principals and staff to keep up with IEP demands, CPS then proclaims that all IEPs will be "honored." The fine tuning of talking points is typical of CPS in 2015. Winston herself has never been asked why the nation's third largest school system is the only one without a special education department and why CPS has decided to call all this "diverse learners" (as if all learners, special needs and others, were not "diverse"). The Orwellian realities of CPS are often reflected in the Power Point versions of the universe that have become typical of executive work during Board meetings. Winston, who was hired by Barbara Byrd Bennett from Ohio, is the last of the "Ohio Posse" still in power at CPS. Substance photo by David Vance.Next the business portion of the meeting took place with a Power Point presentation by Dr. Markay Winston, Chief Officer of the Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services (ODLSS). She was introduced by Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson. Answering the challenges raised by protesters since the July cuts were announced, Jackson said, "Every child with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) will receive the services listed in the IEP."

It was almost a chant. As she began her presentation, Markay Winston repeated, "Every child with an IEP in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will receive ALL of their services - it's the law." She told the public to call her office -- 773-553-1802 -- or be notified of any failure by a school to provide IEP services.

To some observers, a pattern was forming: the failure to provide adequate IEPs for students would not be because of the massive cuts by the Board, but because individual principals had "failed" to adjust their budgets to do the work required by federal law. The massive cuts in special ed staffing, including clinicians, would be ignored by the Board, and "accountability" forced on to the local school principals.

Winston went on to say that 71,000 students are "supported" and that CPS serves a lot of children in different settings. She stated that the graduation rate for "diverse learners" was 54%, which is not satisfactory. She said that a change to a more "results-driven system" is the goal.

Zerlina Smith, one of the more outspoken parent critics of CPS, was barred from speaking because the Board's secretary, Estala Beltran, "bundles" speakers according to a policy which permits every charter school apologist and propagandist to speak while barring as many critics as possible, When Smith objected to the fact that she was not called on to speak despite the fact that she had signed up, security grabbed her and escorted her out on orders of Forrest Claypool. Substance photo by David Vance.Winston then said that 50.4% of "diverse learners" have a specific learning disability and most are at or "above average" in Intelligence Quotient (IQ). She went on to mention that the ODLSS Goals and Theory of Action encompass key areas to focus on: Building Capacity of Staff, Focusing on Para-professionals, and Empowering Families. She then stated that the Programmatic Priorities are: Para Training Institute, Student and Staff Scheduling, ALL Means ALL Pilot ( a pilot program launched last year), and the Full-Day Pre-K Program. In light of these goals, allocation of resources and what she called "greater autonomy" for schools is being aimed for, as well as following Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) class size guidelines, the equitable distribution of finances, and the opening of 30 full-day Pre-K classes.

Veteran Special Education teacher Ceolo Munoz (above left) was one of many people forced out of the Board chambers by CPS security for protesting the way the Board was handling the speakers and the ruthless cuts in special education. Munoz outsmarted Forrest Claypool and the CPS propaganda department by giving a detailed description of the result of the cuts at Penn school to Mark Brown, of the Chicago Sun-Times. The Sun-Times devoted almost a full page to the tale from one of a hundred schools thanks to Munoz, but the Board members were able to fail to hear from her during the public participation portion of the September 29 meeting. Substance photo by David Vance. She said that the CPS budget for Special Ed Supports and Services is $826 million for a certain number of teachers and paras beginning in January. She remarked, "We can be more efficient."

Winston then told the Board that there had been a decrease in the past five years in "diverse learners" in district-run schools. She claimed that there were 2,928 fewer students on the 10th day than at the end of the previous school year in district-run schools. Returning to the IEP claim, she repeated CPS' supposed commitment that "Every child with an IEP in CPS will receive all of their services."

Board members asked critical questions, but were given vague answers, if any.

Board Vice-President Jesse Ruiz then asked, of those 2,928, "How many are just not here as of the 10th day?" Winston came to Chicago from Ohio as one of the several Ohio administrators brought from out of town by former CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett. Everyone from Chicago knows that the tenth day is not the key day in determining the most reliable student membership for the city's real public schools.

Winston replied that that was still being analyzed.

Board Vice-President Ruiz persisted and asked for the percentage. Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson said that they would get that number.

Neither Winston nor Jackson noted that in the past, CPS had leveled classes on the 20th day. One of the reasons for that is that a large number of students who have spent their summers elsewhere (including in Mexico) arrive in early October, and therefore are not present during the first ten days of the school year. In the past, CPS local school budgeting has taken those facts into account, but Ruiz was unable to get any admission from Winston or Jackson that such a reality exists in Chicago.

Alderman Will Burns (4th Ward) praised the Board for the decision to keep Dyett High School open. Substance photo by David Vance.Repeating his question in a different form, Ruiz asked for the "trend." He was told by Jackson that 5 percent "historically transition out."

The Board members' questions continued.

Board member Gail Ward, former principal of Payton College Pres High School, asked about "ALL Means ALL." Winston gave an explanation for the term and its meaning in the schools. CEO Claypool then stated that this is the first year in student-based budgeting that schools are not being held harmless from enrollment declines. He mentioned that all schools were reviewed and some staff was added back in. He said that they would continue to review again and CPS wanted to know if any schools are not getting the resources that are needed.

Chief Education Officer Jackson went on to state the recommendation that Dyett High School be reopened as an open-enrollment, arts-focused neighborhood high school. She said that the principal had been identified. She filled everyone in on the Dyett background: Dyett was a Level 3 school for four years that was phased out in 2012 after seven years on probation. CPS plans an enrollment of 500-600 (full capacity). The school will be arts-focused and also will be a Technology Lab and Training Center. There will be $11-$13 million dollars in capital improvement costs.

Board member Gail Ward remarked that this was a "great example of teamwork."

After the Dyett report, Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson reported on the updated School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP). Jackson said that a "minor adjustment" for high schools was needed because of a "vendor error" by ACT Inc.

The "vendor error" by ACT, Inc. meant that the results of all the tests from ACT -- EXPLORE, PLAN, and ACT -- the basis for the high school trend ratings) were invalid. The ACT tests had become semi-public before they were provided to Chicago and utilized with Chicago students. She went on to explain that the district had been sold "old tests" for 9th and 10th grade, and that those tests had been used as practice exams in CPS and elsewhere. As a result, those tests were available to anyone on the internet before they were administered to CPS students! Jackson told the Board that until "new tests" are provided, payment to ACT of $576 thousand dollars is being withheld. Because of the error in providing compromised tests, 9th and 10th grade student growth cannot be adequately calculated.

Board President Clark remarked that the matter was "complicated" and that it was 100% the fault of being misled by the vendor. He added that we cannot validate the test after it has been on the Internet.

Chief Education Officer Jackson noted that resolution for 2014-2015 scores is being achieved by "adjusting percentages required for student growth" and reducing the weight allotted in standardized testing. None of the Board members asked how this would be possible without the supposedly key tests.

Next, Board President Frank Clark announced that an honorary student Board member is needed, a junior or a senior, by the October 2 deadline. More information is available on the CPS website. He added that the CPS website has a different look, that questions can now be handled on the website and will be answered in a 24-48 hour period. A survey also asks, "How can CPS respond better?" He went on to mention that 15-minute meetings can be arranged with a Board member by calling 773-553-1600.

After this, Board Secretary Estela Beltran announced that the next Board meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 28, 2015, with sign-up for public participation and observation beginning at 8 a.m. on Monday, October 19, 2015 and ending on Friday, October 23, 2015 at 5 p.m. or "when all slots are filled."

When Christine Boardman tried to continue speaking beyond the two-minute limit, CPS security staff snatched away the microphone and she was forced to stop in mid-sentence. Boardman, President of Local 73 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), was complaining about the massive cuts in special education aides. Most of the aides serving special needs students (in Chicago, only, these students are called "diverse learners") were members of Local 73 SEIU and not members of the Chicago Teachers Union. The fired aides, most of them SECAs (Special Education Classroom Assistants) and bus aides, had been reduced dramatically, especially at schools devoted exclusively to serving special needs students. Observers noted the irony of Boardman's position because in August 2012 she betrayed the Chicago Teachers Union by cutting an early contract deal with Rahm Emanuel's Board of Education, resulting in her members crossing the picket lines when the CTU struck in September 2012. In addition to scabbing, Boardman's executive vice president had mocked the CTU in the press during the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012. Substance photo by David Vance.The Board continues to restrict the number of people who are allowed to sign up for public participation to 60, even though at no time during the past year have more then 30 people actually been able to speak at Board meetings during public participation. The subsequent meeting was to show how dramatically the Board members and staff manipulate this suppression of public comment during what are supposedly public meetings.

Public participation began at 11:47 a.m. Public participations directions were given by Board Secretary Beltran.

The first to speak were public officials, Alderman William Burns of the 4th Ward and Alderman Scott Waguespack of the 32nd Ward.

Alderman Burns said he supports the new Dyett High School proposal. He mentioned that it fulfills a vital need and that he will assist and help to find resources. He thanked the Board for "listening."

Alderman Waguespack said that he is against the cuts to Special Ed that took place over the weekend. He heard from parents. He said these children need more services and that civil and human rights are being violated. He mentioned the Corey H. decision when the Board tried to vacate the ruling. He went on to say that Special Education services are not optional and the money allotted to Special Ed cannot be used for something else. He remarked that the report today was helpful but does not cover the full gamut . He predicted that lawsuits will rain down upon the Board and that these lawsuits will cost more (than the Special Ed services that are needed). He also said he visited Special Ed classrooms the first week of school.

Board President Clark then remarked that "This is a Board that truly listens."

CEO Claypool said, "We will review all plans of the schools you visited, school by school and student by student." Alderman Waguespack replied, "I'll continue to work on that."

Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey spoke forcefully against the Board's policies. Substance photo by David Vance.Next to speak was Jesse Sharkey, Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) Vice-President. He said this was his first chance to address the new board. He mentioned that an ATM charges $3 to take your own money out, rip-offs that irritate working people, and that this is true with CPS. He mentioned that banks charge penalties for deals that should never had been entered into in the first place. He said Special Ed money was being used to pay banks. He spoke of a Tribune report that 18 other jurisdictions in the country had dealt with this problem. Finally, he said that charter schools cost money, at which point he was cut off at the two minute limit for public participation.

Sharkey was ready for the cut off, but it was the beginning of what would become tumult.

Christine Boardman, President of Local 73 of the Service Employees International Union (S.E.I.U.) spoke next. She said, "Let's cut to the chase." She stated that the earlier speaker about Special Ed learners (Markey Winston) was incorrect. She charged that more then 300 Special Ed staff had been laid off this year. She added that the U. S. Department of Education said it was a difficult situation. For example, she said, Vaughn High School, where last year 119 needed full-time support, saw 21 staff laid off this year. She remarked that this was not in compliance with Special Ed law. She went on to say that CPS needs assistance with Special Ed plans.

At that point, Boardman was also cut off at the two-minute limit for public participation.

Frequently throughout the meeting, mics were removed from speakers who attempted to say a few words after their two minutes were up.

Wendy Katten of "Raise Your Hand" reported on the group's criticisms of the Board's budgetary priorities and noted her opposition to the expansion of charter schools in Chicago after the Board had closed 50 of the city's real public schools in May 2013 and has cut the budget since July. Substance photo by David Vance.Wendy Katten, of Raise Your Hand, parent of a seventh-grader, said that people took off a day of work to be here. She mentioned that charter schools were scheduled on the agenda to be approved today, after 50 regular public schools had been closed previously [in May 2013]. She stated that 14,000 students had left the district and that parents are now choosing to leave the district. She remarked that the state Charter School Commission was no excuse. She said that CPS had never come out publicly in favor of the commission. She also said that parents do not trust where you put money.

The charter speakers began next, and their speeches followed the usual script: the local public schools had "failed" someone's children, and only the charter school have saved them. On of the parents, Julie Rivera, spoke in favor of the Intrinsic charter school model. She said was shocked by the Special Ed process in Chicago, telling the Board that she had grown up in the suburbs. She said that at Intrinsic, students are helped to be independent and that the school teaches responsibility.

Rob Heise, of Major Hector P. Garcia, MD High School, a charter school, and the Chicago Alliance of Teachers and Staff, the union, stated that every charter school should have a union. He said that charter school boards ignore the community and that a union helps. He said that now there is greater opposition to the expansion of Noble charter schools in Chicago. He added that when the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) expanded, there were negative impacts on neighborhood schools.

Rob Heise told the Board that charter school teachers were organizing into unions. Substance photo by David Vance.Next, a Ms. Esquival, spoke in Spanish which was then translated, about a two-hour travel time to Noble School.

Luz Heuramo, of Kelly High School, asked "Why Noble?"

She said that the Board needs to invest in existing real public schools. She told the Board that Kelly High School needs toilets and toilet paper and so much else because of the budget cuts. She stated that Noble serves fewer English Language Students, has a much higher suspension rate, and more students have been kicked out from Noble schools who wind up then back in the city's real public high schools, like Kelly. She contrasted that with International Baccalaureate (IB) programs in neighborhood schools and teachers with degrees. She added that at Noble, there are fewer services and staff with less education, degrees and experience.

Carmen Torres, parent of a student at Golder College Prep, a Noble school, said her daughter was in college. As is usual when Noble parents trash the city's real public scholls, she said that the local school (which she didn't name) had been a "terrible experience" for her. She said the local public high school was where she ended up "cutting classes". She asked for "access to opportunity" for the southwest side. Elud Raigoza spoke in translated Spanish, about the proposed UNO Noble southwest side school.

The charter schools were not the only ones to get praises from parents who were allowed to speak while others were silenced. Priscilla Young, of Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) Orr High School, said her child was a senior there now and she found the school to be very organized under Principal Sims, who she said has a passion for students. She continued to praise the school.

After an AUSL plug, it was back to Noble. Itzel Aguirre, of "Chicago Bulls College Prep" (a Noble campus located in the old Cregier High School building), said her brother takes a bus and train to get to school and said there is a need for Nobel school on the southwest side.

But it wasn't all charters all the time.

Jeff Jenkins, a parent of two and on the Local School Council (LSC) at Coonley Elementary School, spoke against further charter expansion at the expense of the city's real public schools. Jenkins said that recently his alderman was one of 42 (out of the 50) alderman who had signed the charter school moratorium resolution. The vast majority of the Chicago City Council wants to prohibit charter school expansion at this time. Challenging the claim that "waiting lists" proved the need for more charters, Jenkins noted that many charter schools had many seats but fewer students. He said that charter schools had expanded while neighborhood schools were closed. He asked the Board to say no to deep-pocketed corporate sponsers.

Linda Coronado was next to speak, but had to wait because there was a commotion. At this point, Zerlina Smith, who should have been next on the public participation list, had been taken off the list by Estela Beltran, who claimed to have been consolidating "speakers on the same topic." Zerlina Smith left the Board room while shouting on her way out that the Board was trying to silence critics of their plans and policies. It was only later that some reporters were able to note that the consolidation of signed-up speaker by Estela Beltran had been discriminatory: critics of CPS policies, like Zerlina Smith, were knocked off the list, while almost every charter speaker was allowed to speak.

Linda Coronado, of the Back of the Yards, asked the Board to listen to the community and reject the claim that more charter schools were needed on the Southwest Side.

Sarah Chambers, a teacher Saucedo Academy Elementary School, spoke of the

need for democracy and the need for everyone's voice to be heard. She told the Board of

a student with a disability who had signed up to speak at the Board meeting and was called by "the Board" and told you will be expelled if you go to the BOE to speak. She said that was why the student was not here today. She then told the Board, "Shame on you for choosing bankers over students."

Ariel Johnson, of Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) stated that the moratorium was misguided. She said that 60,000 Chicago parents had chosen to send their children to charter schools while there was a waiting list for Selective Enrollment (SE) Schools. She added that Noble was being stopped in its tracks.

Laurie Viets, of Beard Elementary School, said that her autistic son likes the movie "Titanic." She compared CPS to the Titanic. She said that Beard School was like first class, while more room is needed in first class for those in steerage. She compared the budget shortfall to the iceberg that the Titanic struck. She went on to say that we are sinking. She had more to say, but her two minutes were up.

Raychelle Sokolow of the League of Women Voters criticized the Board. Substance photo by David Vance.Raychelle Sokolow, Chairperson the Education Committee of the League of Women Voters, said her group has studied charter schools and has seen a lack of transparency and a lack of accountability in the use of public funds. She said that her groups opposes private for-profit companies. She said they should be prohibited because of conflicts of interest. She also said that the administrative process should be transparent. She remarked that there should be no virtual learning except in certain circumstances. She said the moratorium on charter schools should last till the impact on regular schools is evaluated.

Jose Hernandez, on the LSC at Kelly High School, said he was opposed to charter school expansion. He told the Board forcefully that Kelly was thriving, and asked. "Why charter schools? This hurts neighborhood schools."

Nicholas Angotti, of Chicago Veterans for Peace, said "Thanks for Dyett." He told of entering the Marine Corps at 21, which his father said was a bad choice, and going to Camp Pendleton. He said the judge had given him the choice of prison or the military. He advocated for no more military schools.

The next speaker asked why another school was needed while there were three established schools. She said there was no justification for opening a Noble charter school in Brighton Park. She said Brighton Park had voted no to the Noble charter school and she asked the Board to reconsider.

Greg Harris, whose son is a senior at Gary Comer, a Noble school, said he was a former Chicago Police Officer and mentors at Gary Comer. He said his son "aced" the American College Testing (ACT) with a score of 30. He believes that no child should have to attend an overcrowded school. He asked the Board to vote to approve the Noble school campus on the southwest side.

Cassandra Cresswell, with More Than a Score, spoke of opting out of the Partnership of Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and of a form letter for Opt Out now being provided. She stated that PARCC should not be used to make high-stakes decisions. and that the Office of Accountability should face cuts.

Timothy McCaffrey, of Decatur Classical Elementary, said the school goes only to sixth grade, the students eat lunch at their desks because there is no school cafeteria, the gym is not big enough, the nearby Jewish Center provides space for physical education and the nurse's office has the only adult toilet in the building. He said Decatur students have to go to another school for seventh and eighth grade. He asked the Board, "Please help!"

Anita Caballero, of Burroughs and Board President of the Brighton Park Council, asked why a charter school was being considered for the southwest side. She mentioned budget cuts taking place in regular schools. She said Kelly High School had lost students in the last five years while charter schools were getting funds. She stated that CPS is broke and schools will lose millions. She asked why charter schools are not meeting enrollment numbers.

Idalia Flores requested her time and was allowed thirty seconds. She is a graduate of Kelly High School and does not want charter schools in the area. She said that CPS should invest in regular schools.

Janeth Herrera, of Kelly High School, spoke of the budget at Kelly. She said she is opposed to a new charter school in the area. She said her children went to a charter school for a year and that that was a nightmare. She asked the Board to invest in the community and stop new charter schools because we don't need one. She asked, "Why not invest in Kelly?"

Marcos Ceniceros, of Kelly High School, spoke of charter schools where students face fines for demerits, for coughing in class, and where students are kicked out for struggling with tests. He stated that this leaves only students the charter schools want, which affects their statistics. He remarked that Nobel collects hundreds of dollars in fines, before he was cut off.

Phillip Cantor of North Grand High School, said that they got their students after those students were kicked out from charter schools, especially Noble schools. He said it was chaos because of the cuts forced on the school by CPS. He spoke of the growing enrollment and student schedules being changed as the school year was supposed to be in progress. He was one of many critics of CPS who was cut off by Forrest Claypool, who ignored every critique. Substance photo by David Vance.Phillip Cantor, of North Grand High School, said that they got their students from charter schools and it was chaos. He spoke of the growing enrollment and student schedules being changed. He also was cut off.

While almost every person speaking critically of CPS policies was cut off abruptly in the middle of speaking -- or, as in the case of Zerlina Smith, not allowed to speak at all -- Chicago Board of Education President Frank Clark tilted the meeting in favor of the charter school speakers. Among those speaking the most were those who repeated the usual mantra about how the Noble Network of Charter Schools makes sure all of its students to go college, ignoring the fact that most of their "campuses" dump as many as half their students back into the city's real public schools for various rules infractions. The Board ignores the fact that Frank Clark, now Board President, has a built in conflict of interest every time the Board votes on charter schools funding or expansion. The "Rowe Clark" "campus" of Noble is partly named after Frank Clark. Substance photo by David Vance.While the people speaking about the sabotage of the city's real public schools were cut off, charter proponents continued to get smiles from the Board and extra time from the Board's secretary and security. Leona Dye, of CICS (Chicago International Charter Schools), thanked CPS for giving her daughter a "choice."

Isaac Krantz, of Hanson Park Elementary School on the city's Northwest Side, said that most of the school's Special Ed aides had lost their jobs in the CPS system. He said, "Cuts do hurt the students." He spoke of the corrupt spending of funds for SUPES, Aramar, and other privatization schemes. He asked the Board to renegotiate the "toxic swaps" and demand money back from Bank of America. He remarked that there is no justification for not renegotiating the swaps.

Matthew Henson, a Special Ed classroom assistant at Hammond School, said students have made staggering progress. He asked, "Does every child have the right to a quality education?"

Erin Weinstein, a new mom at McPherson Elementary and a member of the LSC, said there are five private schools within walking distance of the school. She mentioned that the school has a new playground, there are volunteers at the school, there is an increase in enrollment, and Special Ed is taught in the least restrictive environment. She also spoke of aides that were cut, great dedicated teachers, and the need for more paras.

Chicago Teachers Union researcher Pavlyn Jankov challenged the Board's claims. Substance photo by David Vance.Pavlyn Jankov, of the CTU, spoke about the Special Education budget. He said that there had been cuts in Special Ed and that such arbitrary cost-cutting was leading to the opposite of Best Practices. He also said that an audit of Special Ed services was needed.

Matthew Johnson, on the LSC at Dewey, said Title I budget was not shared this year. He asked to meet with Board members about proposals. He said he has a son with an IEP.

Laurie Hasbrook, of Jacqueline Vaughn Occupational High School, said that the school lost 46 percent of staff last year. She spoke of the offerings at the school: cultural arts, a greenhouse, and a student-run cafe.

Nora Stillwell, a proud charter school parent of a son at Perspectives Charter School, said that since leaving a district-run school, her son has improved. He is now in dual-credit classes at Harold Washington College.

Javier Colin, of Curie High School, said that with cuts, children who learn slow will learn slower. He asked the Board to not destroy our future.

Bill Drew, of the Everett LSC, reminded the Board of the waste that was continuing to result from the Aramark contract to clean the schools. Referring to the silly claim by the former "Chief Administrative Officer" of CPS on behalf of the contract to privatize school cleaning, Drew noted the the "dry Zambonis" that Aramark brought with it can't climb stairs and are great for cleaning ballrooms -- but not classrooms filled with desks and the complex realities of children's education. Substance photo by David Vance.Bill Drew, who serves on the LSC at Everett Elementary, said Aramark services were insufficient. He told the Board that his school had lost a part-time janitor, and cleanliness has begun to decline. He demanded to know why they have only one full-time janitor (he got no answer). He said it was too much for one worker. He stated that the "Zamboni" machine may work in ballrooms but it cannot be carried upstairs or used in classrooms. He mentioned that there were no supplies. He said with privatization, kids suffer. He concluded, "Try this in your own home."

Cheryl Flores told the Board she had not received her two minutes and was allowed to speak. She is on the LSC at Brighton Park Elementary. She said she does not support Nobel in the neighborhood. She told the Board of 3,000 letters in opposition to the Nobel proposal. She urged the Board to make the right decision and vote no to Noble.

Public participation ended at 1:26 p.m.

During comments at the end, Board Vice President Ruiz asked Board President Frank Clark a question about the CPS position on the Illinois Charter Commission. Board President Clark evaded the question. Clark said CPS favors "quality schools," and that it was a complex issue with two sides.

Ruiz responded that he hadn't really gotten an answer to what he was asking. He said previously, CTU President Lewis and then Board President David Vitale wanted to work together on lobbying in regard to charter schools, and he wanted to know where we stand.

An audience member called out to Clark, "Define quality schools." Board President Clark repeated the question and answered it the same way.

Since there were no more comments, Board President Dr. Mahalia Hines

read the motion allowing the Board to go into closed session.


October 2, 2015 at 3:36 PM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

When crooks (CPS) lie to your face

The practiced mantra of the Board members and their underlings of "Every child with an IEP in the CPS will receive ALL their services--it's the law" reminds me of how that tactic was used on me when my father lay in hospice before death from multiple strokes and complications from Alzheimer's. When I would complain that he wasn't being turned over regularly in order to avoid bed sores, all the staff, as well as the head of staff, would quote the hours every patient was turned. I was there; I saw no turning was taking place that I didn't perform for him. But I was always quoted the hours. And how could all the patients even be accomodated at the same hour? Maybe that was done in the few minutes I was in the restroom....If you tell a lie often enough....

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