Parents gathered outside CPS headquarters to protest changes in special education policies

A recent WBEZ-FEM report revealed a “secret manual” for Chicago Public Schools to handle policies for special education, which many parents claim resulted in serious delays and outright prevention of obtaining services for special needs students.

Terri Smith, mother of a special education student at Ray Bradbury school, said of her decision to protest: “We’re here because CPS sees fit to try to balance its budget on the backs of special education students.”

Smith explained students of CPS students had been dealing with excessive, time-consuming documentation requirements that led to significant delays in the provision of services.

“What’s going on now just formalizes what’s been going on for years.”

Amy Da Lafuente, a former CPS teacher, held a sign that read “Shame On You” and said: “There is no oversight for what the school board is doing. There is no parental input whatsoever.”

CPS CEO dismisses controversial report amid calls for his resignation


The protesting parents and educators presented a letter signed by over 1,000 concerned citizens to the Chicago Board of Education, demanding Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS stop using the so-called “secret manual”.

Protesters also called for the firing or immediate resignment of CPS CEO Forrest Claypool.

Claypool claimed the WBEZ investigation and subsequent report “provided inaccurate and misleading information”, and that CPS reforms simply included new guidelines and criteria for providing better special education to special needs students.

Chicago Board of Education members did not respond to comment regarding calls to fire Claypool, saying only that: “Claypool is focused on continuing to help schools and principals lift our students to even further heights.”