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Special Education

The Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services (ODLSS) provides the tools and resources to ensure that all diverse learners receive a high quality public education that prepares students for success.

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.

Announcements

Update: Parents can review student records prior to any eligibility or IEP meeting. (105 ILCS 5/14-8.02f)

Nutrition
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 | URDU ]

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.

Parents
Updated Student Specific Corrective Action Guidelines have been posted for public comment.

Transportation
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.

Diverse Learner Supports and Services during COVID-19 School Closures

  • School Reopening 2020: ODLSS Remote Learning Guidance - September 17, 2020 [ ENGLISH
  • FAQ following ISBE Guidance - March 22, 2020 [ English  |  Spanish ]
  • FAQ following ISBE Guidance - April 20, 2020 [ English  |  Spanish ]
  • FAQ following ISBE Guidance - May 08, 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.

[ English  |  Spanish ]

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.

View ISBE District Action Plan

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.

Review Policies & Procedures

Read more for detailed information [ English ]

Developmental Screenings and Assessments

Early Childhood

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.

Learn More About Early Childhood Screenings & Assessments

Five kids playing with musicial instruments

CPS Student

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.

Special Education Process

Two elementary students looking at something on a table

Non-CPS Student

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 privateschoolevals@cps.edu.

Four 8th grade girls typing on computer keyboards

Parent Supports

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.

Meet Our Specialists

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.

Join the ODLSS FAMILY advisory board

STARnet

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.

Visit starnetchicago.org

Have Questions?

Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services

773-553-1800

773-553-1801 (Fax)

odlss@cps.edu

42 W. Madison St.
Chicago, IL 60602

Have Questions?

Complete and submit this form to request assistance and support for your child regarding special education.

Join the Diverse Learner mailing list to stay informed.

For questions around special education services, please contact the ODLSS District Representative or Special Education Administrator assigned to your school, Parent Involvement Specialists are also available.

Contact Information

School Assignment Services
773-553-1847

Student Transportation
773-553-2860

Nursing Information
773-553-4589