Shuttered: An Examination of How the 2013 Chicago Public School Closings are Denying Special Education Students the Right to an Appropriate Public Education
Recently, the Chicago Public School system faced financial crisis as it struggled to balance severe budget cuts against overwhelming pension obligations. CPS responded to the crisis by immediately closing forty-nine elementary schools and terminating the employment of thousands of teachers and support staff. The displaced students, including many with special needs, were hastily transferred to surrounding schools without meaningful evaluation of the impact of the closings or the resources the receiving schools could provide. After a brief history of the disability rights movement, special education laws, and the crisis that led to the CPS closings, this Comment argues that the CPS closings and layoffs harmed special education students in violation of the federal guarantees provided by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This Comment also advocates for a new legal burden scheme that would hold school systems more accountable for changes made to special education programs under IDEA.