Hunter works to close disparities in special education

hunter 041918SPRINGFIELD – In response to the alarming report released by WBEZ in 2017, which uncovered that Chicago Public Schools had been intentionally scaling back their special education funding and services, State Senator Mattie Hunter (D- Chicago) sponsored legislation to reexamine the school system's approach.

“Children with special needs should have the same opportunities regardless of race or socioeconomic background,” Hunter said. “It is our job as public officials and the mission of CPS to provide an opportunity for every student to reach his or her full potential academically.”

Senate Bill 3514 will require CPS principals and school personnel who are regular members of an individualized education program (IEP) team to determine special education staffing needs. The legislation aims to close disparities in education spending based on race and income. WBEZ found that schools with wealthier student populations spent the most per student while schools with mostly low-income students spent the least. Following the report, the State Board of Education appointed members to a Public Inquiry Team to examine CPS’s special education policy.

“Siphoning money away from special education programs and services to other programs is absolutely unfair to students with learning disabilities,” said Hunter. “We need to make sure that we have fully staffed schools designed to cultivate the talents of special needs students.”

Yesterday, the Public Inquiry Team released a second report which contained 43 findings of systemic problems that ultimately delay and deny special services to these students. One of the problems outlined in the report addressed CPS’s need to authorize individualized personnel teams.

Senate Bill 3514 passed the Senate 51-0 and now moves to the House for consideration.

Sen. Mattie Hunter

Senator Mattie Hunter

3rd District
Majority Caucus Chair

Years served:
2003 - Present (Senate)

Committee assignments: Appropriations I; Energy and Public Utilities; Executive (Chairperson); Human Services; Public Health; Subcommittee on Special Issues (EX) (Sub-Chairperson); Subcommittee on Special Issues (HS); Opioid Crisis Abatement Spec. Com.; Transportation (Vice-Chairperson).

Biography: State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago – 3rd District) has served in the Illinois Senate since 2003. She is Chairperson of the Senate Energy Committee and serves on many other committees like Human Services and Public Health. She is also appointed to serve on the National Conference of State Legislatures Health Committee and is Co-Chair of the Council of State Government Health Policy Task Force.

Associated Representatives:
Sonya M. Harper
Lamont J. Robinson, Jr.