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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.

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

Recovery Services

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.

Announcements

Public Comment for 2022-23 IDEA Procedural Manual

Document Public Comment Period Status Comments Summary
DRAFT - 2022-23 IDEA Procedural Manual July 29, 2022 - September 12, 2022 Open for Comments View Comments Summary of Changes

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.

Read the full policy

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.

If you have questions, please call 773-553-1815 or email HB2748@cps.edu. For more details, refer to our August 30, 2021 Parent Letter. [ ENGLISH | SPANISH ]

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 ]

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.

Guidelines

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.

Newsletters

2022

2021

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.

[ 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 provide feedback or request assistance and support for your child on special education topics such as remote learning.

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

SSCA Helpline
773-553-1843