ODLSS is responsible for student evaluations, creating and monitoring Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), and working with schools, staff, and families to fulfill these plans towards greater student development and achievement. ODLSS uses a data-driven approach to best support the needs of each individual student, and does so in compliance with federal and state regulations regarding special education, including the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Update: Parents can review student records prior to any eligibility or IEP meeting. (105 ILCS 5/14-8.02f)
ODLSS Chief Search
A search is underway to find the next leader for the Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services. Find the latest information about the process and contribute your thoughts and ideas in our community surveys.
Public Comment Period Open for SY23-24 Procedural Manual
The Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services (ODLSS) is posting its Draft Procedural Manual for public comment. The public comment period was open for 45 days and closed on August 28, 2023.
ODLSS is committed to providing our diverse learners with the supports needed to help students achieve success in the classroom and in life. The Procedural Manual is a detailed resource providing District staff and stakeholders with guidance on how to support our students with disabilities. It was last published in late 2021. ODLSS appreciates the advocacy of our stakeholders and is grateful for feedback on this Draft Procedural Manual.
Guidance for public comment:
- All comments will be reviewed prior to being finalized and posted publicly on the CPS ODLSS website. Please allow three to five business days for submitted comments to be reviewed and posted.
- Do not include student personally identifiable information. If such student information is included in the comment, the comment will be reviewed and maintained but will not be posted for public viewing.
- Do not include any of your personally identifiable information in the text of your comment if you do not want it publicly available (e.g., name, address, and phone number).
- CPS reserves the right to review and redact comments it deems offensive or inappropriate. Comments will be redacted if they include defamatory statements; vulgar or threatening language; or confidential information about students, employees, or others.
We understand that the public health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our students, especially our students with disabilities. In response the district has created a process for IEP teams to use data to determine whether a student has experienced a skill regression or stagnation due to the COVID-19 pandemic and provide supports and services that will lead to meaningful recoupment.
Any student with an IEP enrolled in CPS through June 2021 is eligible for a Recovery Service Meeting. A team can hold a Recovery Services Meeting for any student who was actively enrolled in CPS who demonstrates an IEP goal skill regression or stagnation from March 2020 to the individual student’s return to in-person learning.
For more information, refer to the Recovery Services Overview.
Special Education Advisory Committee Listening Sessions
Attention Families: As you may know, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is currently searching for a new Chief to lead the Office of Diverse Learners Supports and Services (ODLSS).
We want to hear from our parents and community members about what skills and qualities you feel are most important in a new ODLSS Chief. To gather this feedback, the Chicago Board of Education Special Education Advisory Committee is hosting four listening sessions for members of the CPS community.
Details for these meetings are as follows:
- Thursday, September 14 from 6 - 7:30 p.m. (Virtual Only)
- Friday, September 15 from 10 - 11:30 a.m. (Virtual or In-Person)
- For those attending in person, this meeting will be held at the CPS Garfield Park Office, 2651 W. Washington Blvd.
- Monday, September 25 from 6 - 7:30 p.m. (Virtual or In-Person)
- For those attending in person, this meeting will be held at Back of the Yards High School, 2111 W. 47th Street
- Tuesday, September 26 from 4:00 - 5:30 p.m. (Virtual or In-Person)
- For those attending in person, this meeting will be held at Lavizzo ES, 138 W 109th St. [Gymnasium, 1st Floor. Enter through Door 8]
Click here to join one of the virtual meetings, or to complete a survey related to the ODLSS leadership search.
Enhanced General Supervision Plan
CPS and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) are collaboratively transitioning from the Public Inquiry Corrective Action and ongoing ISBE Special Education Accountability and Supports System to a consolidated Enhanced General Supervision Plan (EGSP). The primary goal of the EGSP is for CPS and the ISBE to work together to meaningfully improve outcomes for students with disabilities and their families within Chicago Public Schools. Together, CPS and ISBE have woven the CPS Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services (ODLSS) Goals and Priorities together with the eight components of ISBE's general supervision system to create this EGSP.
The Enhanced General Supervision Plan linked below, as well as shared on the ODLSS website reflects the work CPS and ISBE will be conducting and tracking together, in tandem with CPS families and other internal and external stakeholders (e.g., Chicago Teachers Union, SEIU Local 73, ODLSS Family Advisory Board, special education advocates, and others). The EGSP is neither a complete nor exhaustive list of efforts and activities to be conducted by both CPS and ISBE in the area of special education. Rather, the EGSP is intended to represent key areas of focus and improvements this school year for CPS students with disabilities and families.
Time Out Restraint Policy
In accordance with 105 ILCS 5/14-8.05(c), Chicago Public Schools has adopted policies to reduce the usage of unnecessary physical restraint and timeout and eliminate the use of isolated time out and restrictive restraints. Chicago Public Schools are committed to ensuring that staff in every building receive the proper training to prevent the occurrences of challenging behavior and de-escalate instances of behavior when they arise. Chicago Public Schools utilizes Safety Care Behavioral Safety Training program, which provides the skills and competencies necessary to effectively prevent, minimize and manage behavioral challenges with dignity, safety and the possibility of change using evidence-based interventions. Information surrounding Safety Care training opportunities for staff have been provided to administrators, in addition to all educators and staff through ODLSS leadership. When behavioral crises are unable to be prevented through the use of proactive strategies or managed through the use of verbal de-escalation strategies, schools will document each instance of physical restraint or timeout and complete appropriate documentation procedures within 24 hours of the incident. This includes Chicago Public Schools' reporting protocols and submitting appropriate documentation to the Illinois State Board of Education. Schools must make every effort to contact parent(s)/guardian(s) to inform them of the incident by the end of the school day, and provide parents with the appropriate documentation made within 24 hours. Written notice of the right to request a meeting with school personnel must be provided to the parent(s)/guardian(s) at the time they are notified of the incident, but no more than 2 days after the incident took place. If a meeting is requested by the parent(s)/guardian(s), the meeting must take place within two school days after the request is made, provided that the two day limitation may be extended only if requested by the parent/guardian. If the parent(s)/guardian(s) does not request a Post-PRTO meeting within ten (10) school days or they fail to attend a requested meeting that must be documented as part of the student's school record. Following any three incidents of physical restraint or timeout within a 30-day span, a team meeting should occur to review incidents and identify preventative strategies to implement prior to crisis or differing methods which could be utilized to respond to challenging behavior. The district will establish an oversight team who will develop goals to reduce the district's use of unnecessary restraint and timeout and provide teams with additional training as needed.
Special Education Eligibility Due to HB 40 & HB 2748
As a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency, a new Illinois law gives certain students the option of extending their special education eligibility for in-person transition activities and services. To learn more about eligibility and to request placement in the program, view the CPS parent letter and interest form linked below.
Students placed at non-public schools by CPS pursuant to their Individualized Education Programs, will receive free breakfast and lunch at the facility where they are placed. For more details, refer to the Free Nutrition Letter. [ ENGLISH | SPANISH | ARABIC | CHINESE | POLISH ]
In addition, please note that this applies to days in which students receive in-person instruction. Students placed at schools participating in remote learning can visit one of CPS' meal sites Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. To locate your nearest site, visit CPS Meal Sites.
Updated Student Specific Corrective Action Guidelines have been posted for public comment.
On May 5, 2017, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) received an Illinois State Board of Education Complaint regarding the district’s transportation procedures for preschool students with disabilities who require different pick-up or drop-off locations. In light of the State’s determinations, CPS is committed to providing transportation as a related service to all eligible preschool students with disabilities to and from and between locations other than their home. For example, an eligible preschool student may be picked up at home, dropped off at school to receive special education services, and then picked up and taken to a child care or community-based early learning program within the city of Chicago. If you have any questions regarding pre-k transportation services for students with disabilities, please contact the Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services at ODLSS@cps.edu.
- October parent Newsletter
- September parent Newsletter
- August parent Newsletter
- July parent Newsletter
- June parent Newsletter
- May Parent Newsletter
- April Parent Newsletter
- March Parent Newsletter
- February Parent Newsletter
- January Parent Newsletter
- November Parent Newsletter
- December Parent Newsletter
- December Parent Newsletter
- November Parent Newsletter
- October Parent Newsletter [ ENGLISH | SPANISH ]
Diverse Learner Supports and Services during School Closures
- Supplemental Learning Resources for Students with Disabilities [ ENGLISH ]
- ODLSS Phased Reopening Guidance for Moderate and Intensive Cluster Programs [ ENGLISH ]
- ODLSS Reopening Guidance for Diverse Learner Programming [ ENGLISH ]
- Parent Fact Sheet - Remote Learning Plan [ ENGLISH ]
- School Reopening 2020: ODLSS Remote Learning Guidance - September 17, 2020 [ ENGLISH ]
- FAQ following ISBE Guidance - February 24, 2021 [ ENGLISH | SPANISH ]
- FAQ following ISBE Guidance - January 29, 2021 [ ENGLISH | SPANISH ]
- FAQ following ISBE Guidance - March 22, 2020 [ English | Spanish ]
- FAQ following ISBE Guidance - May 08, 2020 [ English | Spanish ]
- FAQ following ISBE Guidance - April 20, 2020 [ English | Spanish ]
Illinois School Code Update on Requests for IEP Service Documents
Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has amended the Illinois School Code so that parents can request service documents identified on their child's Individualized Education Program (IEP). Copies of IEP service records will be available to parents at the child's IEP meeting or may be requested at any time by contacting the school's Principal and Case Manager.
Student Specific Corrective Action
The Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services outlines the Student Specific Corrective Action process that will take place at annual IEP meetings during the 2019–20 school year.
2019-20 Special Education Procedural Manuals and Guidance Documents
CPS values community input and is committed to listening and reflecting on public comments regarding proposed changes to its special education procedural manuals and guidance documents. Community members have 45 calendar days to review and provide feedback on the proposed 2019-20 special education procedural manuals and guidance documents.
Read more for detailed information [ English ]
Developmental Screenings and Assessments
Prescreenings in the Community
Early detection of developmental delays and high quality interventions can change a child’s development trajectory and improve outcomes for the child in a range of domains: physical and social/emotional health, language, communication, and cognitive development.
Child Find offers free screenings for developmental delays to Infants and young children who reside in the city.
Assessment in School
School-based assessment teams are responsible for evaluating any child attending a CPS school for special supports and services. Teachers, social workers, health care and special education professionals, as well as parents are involved in the process, which typically begins with an assessment of the child’s performance.
If you have concerns about your child’s development or progress in school, we recommend talking to your child’s teacher, counselor or social worker. Formal requests for an evaluation should be made in writing and addressed to the school principal and case manager.
Assessment at a CPS Facility
Parents of students who reside in Chicago but do not attend a CPS school may request an evaluation by the Citywide Assessment team. The assessment process is the same as that for CPS students, except that formal and informal testing occurs at a CPS testing facility.
Discuss your concerns about your child’s development or progress in school with your child’s teacher, counselor or social worker first. Formal requests for an evaluation should be sent to your school administration. For more information, contact CPS at 773-553-1800, or email email@example.com.
CPS is committed to strengthening relationships and collaboration between families, schools, and community partners through the creation of a shared vision. ODLSS provides a number of resources and training opportunities to assist parents in caring for their children and securing the right services, supports, and individualized instruction plans to aid their learning. Additionally, through groups like the ODLSS Family Advisory Board, parents can participate in and influence the development of district policies for students with disabilities.
Parent Involvement Specialists
Parent Involvement Specialists are engagement liaisons who help families navigate supports and services for students with disabilities.
ODLSS Family Advisory Board (ODLSS FAB)
The ODLSS Family Advisory Board (formerly known as ODLSS Parent Advisory Council) is a community of families with diverse learner students who have a shared interest in collaborating with ODLSS to support students by enhancing special education supports and services.
STARnet offers parent and educator training workshops, webinars, technical assistance, and a lending library for those caring for young children, from birth to age eight, with an emphasis on children with special needs and IEPs.