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Will CPS Move Students With Autism Again?

By Kevin Robinson in News on Feb 12, 2013 10:00PM

McClellan Elementary, via Google Street View
As the date draws near for the announcement of the first round of school closings in Chicago, parents in Bridgeport are wondering about the fate of their neighborhood schools. Parents of special needs children, including those with autism, are especially concerned.

That’s because McClellan Elementary, at 35th and Wallace, is on the Chicago Public Schools Space Utilization and Enrollment Database as underutilized, even though CPS officials have acknowledged that they are miscalculating the number of classrooms in the school and faculty point out that the district still hasn't updated the school’s utilization rate.

DNAinfo is reporting that CPS counts three small classrooms dedicated to autistic students as regular classrooms, meaning that by downtown’s calculations, “those classrooms should have 90-something kids there. That would be impossible," said McClellan Principal Jospeh Schoffner. And while local school leadership have appealed to CPS to take the autism program at McClellan into account, they’ve received thus far only a letter from the District saying it was “very much” taking into account the school’s concerns. About a quarter of McClellan’s student body is made up of special education students. Further worrying both parents and faculty at McClellan is that just a few years ago McClellan was a receiving school for Abbott students what that school was closed a few years back.

“It’s kind of a mixed message. They didn’t change our utilization rate but acknowledged the challenges of our autism program,” Shoffner told DNAinfo’s Casey Cora. The principal also pointed out how traumatic closing the school would be for autistic students, especially for those that transferred over from Abbott Elemantray just a few years back.

CPS is supposed to make an announcement on Wednesday, February 13 regarding the first round of school closings.