Chicago Public Schools is criticizing a WBEZ investigation on the school district’s overhaul of special education. WBEZ stands firmly behind the quality of its reporting and its conclusions.
The investigation found that CPS last year scaled back special education funding and services after secretly instituting new rules. WBEZ also found wide disparities in special education spending per student based on race and income. In the year before the overhaul, schools with wealthier student populations spent the most per student while schools with mostly low-income students low-income spent the least.
In a letter to WBEZ, CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said the station presented “erroneous information and false conclusions.” He questioned information in WBEZ’s findings around special education staffing levels, reductions in student services, and demographic information on CPS’ special education population.
In our rigorous reporting and analysis, WBEZ relied on CPS data. In addition, most of our analyses and methodologies were vetted by school district officials before publishing. WBEZ listened to their concerns and incorporated them into the analyses. In his letter to WBEZ, Claypool presented different interpretations of the data, even though in some cases his own staff instructed WBEZ not to present the data in that way.