Sadly, we are realizing that we are doing our special-needs child a disservice by trying to make a go of it in the Chicago Public Schools. It is no secret that the district is severely underfunded and approaches special education from a compliance perspective only. The district will turn its nose up at the law until you show them that you know they are in violation of it, and only then will your child receive the services that are entitled to them. (And my gosh, the poor kids of parents who are not aware or are not fighters!) We just recently learned that services we fought for will be provided by an itinerant with roughly 150 kids on her caseload! So all that angst and time and effort spent to receive what are practically guaranteed to be inadequate services. It's just not worth it--we are getting out.
So I'm wondering about suburban districts--what ones serve special-needs students well? Suburban parents, please share your experiences, positive or negative! Thanks so much!
My recommendation is based on both personal and professional experience. There are a lot of CPS schools who have wonderful teachers and services for children with special needs. Surprisingly, they are throughout the city, not just in high-income neighborhoods. Depending on your child's needs, you could apply to other schools within CPS and have a very different experience. Yes, itinerant staff have large caseloads, but they are typically able to meet an individual student's need based on their IEP. If a student is supposed to get 45 minutes per week of speech, the school is assigned the appropriate staff. That's my experience. Suburbs: Oak Park (look at the schools in each attendance area, not all equal!), Evanston (same as Oak Park, check your neighborhood), Skokie (very good schools), and the entire North Shore. Again, depending on your child's needs you may or may not be satisfied. Feel free to contact me.62753
If you have not left for the burbs yet, I can speak to my experience with The Hope Institute Learning Academy in Chicago. It is a contract school only in it's 2nd year. My 6 year old with sensory processing disorder is in his first year here and we have seen a HUGE improvement in his speech and learning ability. I heard mixed reviews about this school before applying but I thought I would try it since it is a school that is run by The Hope Institute for Children & Families in Springfield (an Autism organization). So glad I did! It is a new school with growing pains but the administration is wonderful. We've had meetings with the family counselor to determine my sons needs and goals. He has OT and Speech weekly, an expense that ran our credit cards to the limits. They integrate the special need kids in the general classes (that is part of the schools philosophy) and he also goes to a special-needs class for parts of the day. They are in the process of completing a sensory gym and by donation from the Chicago Black Hawks, they are building a Wii Cafe (this will be an incentive for students through the PE class). The teachers keep great communication with us for the good and bad (my son can have his tantrums). They let us know what's working in the classroom so we could implement it at home. My son loves going to school here. I think this will be THE school in Chicago for the special-needs child or any child. They are adding grades every year (adding 5th grade for 2011-12 school year). I love how integrating them in the general classroom is teaching the general students compassion for the person that is different. It's a great concept and I look forward to the growth. Contact me anytime and good luck.67907
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