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Special Ed Cuts Delayed Amid Sharp Parent, Teacher Criticism

In justifying new cuts to special education, the head of the CPS Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services, Markay Winston, told the Board of Education that there are nearly 3,000 fewer students with special needs at district-run schools this year, compared to the end of school last year.

That would be a significant drop of more than 6 percent – and represent about half of the entire enrollment decline at district-run schools since last year. When asked about the drop by a board member, Winston could not say for certain whether students have “transitioned out” of special education or left the district altogether.

But Winston ignored one critical fact. According to CPS’s own reports, district staff typically identify, during the course of a year, about 3,000 new students who need special services. That means the number of so-called “diverse learners” typically rises by about 3,000 by the end of the school year.