Montefiore to protest sabotage of special education at March 25 Chicago Board of Education meeting
Members of the Montefiore School community are planning to speak out at tomorrow’s Board of Education meeting against proposed staff cuts. Principal Dr. Mary Ann Pollett, teachers, LSC members , former students and community supporters plan to question why the Office of Specialized Services (OSS) has stopped referring students to Montefiore despite their proven success in 80 years of addressing the needs of students with severe and profound behavior and emotional needs.
They want to educate CPS Board members about the services Montefiore provides and show them how these services are related to the Corey H. Settlement.
Pollett says that Board members are “ill-informed” about special education and the Corey H. Settlement. According to Pollett, board member Norman Bobins stated at a past Board meeting that he thought the settlement meant that day schools had to be closed. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the law upon which the Corey H. Settlement is based, states that students must be educated in their Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). Therapeutic day schools are considered the LRE for many children suffering with behavioral and emotional disturbances.
Reverend Robin Hood, the Executive Director of Clergy Committed to Community (as well as a community representative on Montefiore’s LSC) plans to speak tomorrow because he wants to tell the Board of Education that “it is immoral to have children funded by tax payer’s money be denied services for special needs schools while at the same time CPS spends money on private therapeutic schools.”
According to Board of Education reports dated April 23, 2008 and June 25, 2008, CPS has contracts to spend over $69 million dollars through OSS to private service providers for special education services over the next two years. Many argue that this money should be invested into CPS’s own schools and programs instead of being outsourced to private entities.
Rev. Hood says, “the lack of education for high-risk children in our communities is directly linked to the violence in the communities.”
He calls Renaissance 2010 and the Board’s decisions to close, turn around, and phase out schools “the new slave trade.” Rev. Hood says that CPS should be expanding Montefiore’s services, rather than cutting them.
Apparently, Mayor Richard Daley agrees. He was overheard at a breakfast with members of the clergy on May 21st commenting on how successful Montefiore is and how more children with behavior issues should be placed at Montefiore.