Since CPS Legal is above the CEO's office on the CPS Organizational Chart, let's see how much they cost.
This breakdown does NOT include attorneys in other departments like Office of Diverse Learners Supports, EOCO compliance officers/investigators, Office of Local School Council Relations and anywhere else CPS uses attorneys in-house.
CPS Legal costs the District almost $8 million in salaries.
Children suffer under CPS's lackadaisical approach to resolving conflicts. The newest development showing this is the Department of Education's Office of Civil Right's corrective action for Title IX compliance. Title IX is federal measure protecting students from sex-based discrimination. Oversight will be 3 years and require the District to overhaul its processes, supply proof and paperwork for review and start to offer notifications and remedial action for students.
Does this sound familiar?
Unfortunately, it does.
CPS is also under a corrective action for its policies regarding Special Education. Here again, CPS failed students and is now under oversight by the Illinois State Board of Education.
The overhaul is much needed for our students with OCR finding things as such as:
According to the Investigation’s Unit Manager, the only standard used to determine whether the Unit would investigate an allegation was whether Investigations Unit staff “collectively feel it calls for an investigation.”
Strikingly, CPS determines its investigative needs, by what seems like a show of hands.
Investigations were conducted by a patchwork of both school-level personnel and District personnel without any District-wide coordination of efforts and results. This patchwork structure compromised the ability of students to learn in a safe educational environment.
No processes, no policies. This hurts our children. Why would CPS Legal be compelled to investigate when it potentially increases the District's liability? This is the same District whose employees regularly push parents into mediation, due process or flat out tell parents to "sue us".
And to that point, CPS's General Counsel admits there is no central process for investigation of complaints.
"The District lacked written guidelines or procedures for school-based Title IX investigations, and District witnesses did not describe a consistent practice or approach. The District’s General Counsel acknowledged that no entity in the District’s central office, including the Law Department, supervised investigations into sexual harassment allegations that were handled at the school level..."
How is it that the General Counsel's office sits at the top of CPS's organization chart, but doesn't implement basic needs for our students?
At what point will CPS be overseen in full by outside agencies - it's becoming clearer day by day that CPS can't manage itself.
Is this how other Districts operate?
In Los Angeles, the second largest school district, Legal reports to the Superintendent and to the Board of Education.
In Miami-Dade, Legal is a service group spread out under Compliance and Human Capital, under the Superintendent.
In Clark County Nevada, Legal is a service group under the Superintendent and on par with the other operating offices in the District.
In Broward County, Legal is on par with the Superintendent's office with Broward County Community listed at the top of their organizational chart. This is because the Board of Education is elected.
In Houston, Legal reports to the Superintendent.
In Hillsborough, Florida, the Board of Education has its own attorney separate from the District and the District's General Counsel reports directly to the Superintendent.
And in Hawaii, the Legal Department is underneath the Administrative Assistant Office, which then reports to the Superintendent.
In short, CPS is the only large school district with Legal sitting above the Superintendent.
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American Indian Education Program