2815 S. Komensky Avenue (map) Chicago, IL 60623
Main Office: 773.534.1560
Attendance Hotline: 773.534.1580
Annex Building: 773.534.1580
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 Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services 

Mission - Our Purpose…

To provide high quality and specially designed instructional supports and services for all diverse learners within their least restrictive environment

Vision - Why we Exist…

To ensure diverse learners receive meaningful and relevant access to grade level core instruction within their neighborhood school, school of choice, or the school closest to their residence

Our Goal…

To improve the academic achievement of all diverse learners in the Chicago Public Schools

Strategic Priorities:

  • Develop a shared community vision and commitment to providing quality instruction and supports to diverse learners
  • Shift focus toward quality instructional learning supports and specially designed instruction to increase achievement
  • Reintegrate students with disabilities from decentralized cluster programs into neighborhood schools or the schools they would attend if not disabled
  • Adopt a regionalized system of network supports and services for diverse learners
  • Execute revenue enhancement opportunities in targeted areas
  • Strengthen our system of support for parents of diverse learners
  • Develop transparency in all operations, procedures and fiscal management

If you are the parent of a child with disabilities for whom transportation is provided pursuant to an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan and your child is experiencing transportation related problems, call (773) 553-2860 for immediate assistance.

The Special Education Process…

Please click on the links below to access information on the Special Education Process.

Procedural Safeguards and Parental Supports 

Welcome to ODLSS' Procedural Safeguards and Parental Supports section of the website! Parents are important partners in educating and preparing our students for a successful future. We look forward to our continued partnership as we strive to ensure that all students are life-ready, college-prepared, and/or career-ready after graduation.

Procedural Safeguards and Parental Supports is a place where you can find support and answers. We encourage you to take advantage of every opportunity offered in helping you become an active partner in your child's education. You will find links to the many ways in which we provide support and training, including links to parent training and information organizations, advocacy organizations, disability support groups, recreational opportunities, fact sheets and more. Again, you are an important partner in your child's education. Together we can make success happen.

If you are the parent of a diverse learner and need assistance with connecting with the proper personnel, have questions about the special education process and/or would like general support, including IEP support, please contact our Parent Involvement Administrator at 773-553-2258.

For issues involving state sponsored mediation, state complaints or due process hearings, please call 773-553-1905.

 Understanding Your Rights

IEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

“The federal law mandating that all children with disabilities have available to them a free, appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for employment and independent living.”

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has published a comprehensive manual that discusses your rights under the IDEA. ISBE’s Educational Rights and Responsibilities: Understanding Special Education in Illinois. Click the version you would like to view:

Procedural Safeguards

The Notice of Procedural Safeguards for Parents/Guardians of Students with Disabilities is a document you are to be provided at least once a year as well as under other circumstances, including upon your request.

Informal Dispute Resolution Guide

Communication is KEY to your child’s success. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s progress or behavior, please speak to the appropriate school staff. Regular communication can resolve many concerns. If concerns arise regarding the special education evaluation, placement and/or services of your child, it is recommended that parents start with the informal dispute process first, as most, if not all, issues can be resolved at this level. However, parents have the right to select and proceed, at any time, with any of the formal complaint options discussed further below and in the Notice of Procedural Safeguards.

  • STEP 1 Talk to your child’s teacher(s) and/or service provider(s).
  • STEP 2 Talk to the school case manager.
  • STEP 3 Talk to the school principal or assistant principal.
  • STEP 4 Talk to your Diverse Learner Support Leader or Network Executive Director
  • STEP 5 Contact staff at ODLSS at Central office

If you need assistance with finding personnel contact information, please call 773-553-1800 or 773-553-2258.

Dispute Resolution/Formal Complaints

If you cannot work out disagreements or concerns with the IEP team or other District personnel, you have the right to elevate your concerns. A brief outline of the three formal processes is below:

  • Formal Mediation
    A process in which parents and school personnel try to settle disagreements with the help of a trained mediator provided by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Contact the ISBE mediation coordinator at 217-782-5589.
  • Formal Due Process Request
    A formal hearing process to settle disagreements between parents and schools. A due process hearing is similar to a court of law and generally follows a formal process, with opening statements, cross examinations of witnesses, and closing statements. Parents must request a due process hearing with the Superintendent (CEO) of CPS in writing. A form is also available online.
  • Formal ISBE Complaint
    A written complaint about special education issues concerning a child (or children) filed with the Illinois State Board of Education that is investigated by a state-appointed employee with expertise in special education. Address complaints to: ISBE, Special Education Division, 100 N. First Street, Springfield, IL, 62777-0001 or 217-782-5589. Aform is also available online.

 Procedural Safeguards Resources Advocate List

For Information about Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, please visit US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (Section 504).



Yo can download a Guide for Writing IEPs here. A US Department of Education IEP/Evaluations/Reevaluations FAQ document can be accessed here.

Must the child's IEP goals address all aspects of the general education curriculum, or solely the areas in which the child's involvement, participation, and progress are adversely affected by his/her disability?

A student's IEP goals should relate to the elements of the general education curriculum (or pre-readiness skills) that will allow the student to participate and progress in the general education program. IEP goals target the student's educational needs set forth in the student's present levels of performance. The goals are based upon the ways in which the student's disability(ies) adversely affect the student's ability to perform in the classroom. The IEP need not include goals that target areas which are not adversely affected by the student's disability(ies).

May my child attend the IEP meeting?

The student may attend and participate in the IEP meeting if the parent(s) determine that he/she should be present. The student may attend selected parts of the IEP meeting, rather than being present for the entire meeting.

What timelines affect the creation and implementation of my child's IEP?

What is the difference between a 504 Plan and an IEP?

What is "special education"?

Is my child with special needs entitled to participate in sports and other extra-curricular activities?

Must the public school help my child with a disability find a job or get into college, following completion of high school?

Can IEP Team members use alternative means to participate in an IEP Team Meeting?

Can my child be suspended from school for behavioral reasons?

What do I do if I disagree with the IEP Team at the meeting?

Can I request that my child repeat a grade?

May I record IEP meetings? Should I record IEP meetings?

What type of education is my child entitled to during the summer months?

Can I excuse a member of the IEP Team from an IEP Meeting?

Can I bring additional people to the IEP meeting?

Who makes the ultimate decision about what goes into my child's IEP?

Can an IEP be changed, without holding an IEP meeting?

Student Support and Engagement

Am I entitled to examine my child's educational records?

How do I arrange a private independent evaluation, and who pays for it?

Family Involvement

Research strongly supports school-parent partnerships as effective in improving school climate and student performance. The influence of parent involvement is profound and provides comprehensive benefits for students, families, and schools when parents and family members become active participants in their children's education and lives.

Published in A New Generation of Evidence: The Family is Critical to Student Achievement the most accurate predictor of a student's achievement in school is the extent to which that student's family is able to:

  1. Create a home environment that encourages learning;
  2. Communicate high, yet reasonable, expectations for their children's achievement and future careers; and
  3. Become involved in their children's education.

National Network of Partnership School (NNPS) - Dr. Joyce Epstein, Director of the NNPS and the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships has conducted research and worked with elementary, middle, and high schools, districts, and state departments of education for many years to help educators build more effective programs of school, family, and community partnerships.

Promising Partnership Practices - Published annually by NNPS, provides successful partnership practices implemented in schools, districts, and State Education Agencies across the country.

Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) - A project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, HFRP has a wealth of research and application for partnership development.

National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education (NCPIE) - At NCPIE, their mission is to advocate the involvement of parents and families in their children's education, and to foster relationships between home, school, and community to enhance the education of all our nation's young people.

Governor's Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership - Is a nationally recognized leader in developing parent leaders in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Emerging Issues in School, Family, and Community Connections - The issues highlighted in this synthesis represent critical areas of work in family and community connections with schools where clarification, agreement, and further development are needed, as well as promising new directions that are emerging.

A New Wave of Evidence, The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement - This review of the research examines the growing evidence that family and community connections with schools make a difference in student success.

Diversity: School, Family, and Community Connections - This synthesis focuses specifically on three categories: race or ethnicity, culture (including language), and socioeconomic status.

The SEDL National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools, Strategy Briefs

Webinar Series on Family, School and Community Engagement in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education, United Way, National PTA, SEDL and Harvard Family Research Project. There are 9 webinars in all and can be viewed on Adobeconnect. Printable materials are also available.

Data on Data: A Resource Guide to Engaging Families with Student Data - Published by HFRP serves as a Resource Guide for Engaging Families with Student Data.

Educating our Children Together, A Sourcebook for Effective Family-School-Community Partnerships.

Principal's Research Review, Supporting the Principal's Data-based Decisions. National Association of Secondary School Principals, Vol. 2, Issue 6, November 2007.

US Department of Education, Parent Involvement - Provides information designed to assist local educational agencies, schools and parents in meeting the requirements of parental involvement provisions required under Title I, Part A.

Illinois State Board of Education, Parent Involvement - The State Board resource for parent involvement requirements.

Illinois 5Essentials - 5Essentials is an evidence-based system designed to drive improvement in schools nationwide. One of essential is family involvement.


Advocacy / Communication and Collaboration / Community Supports

Disability Specific Resources /  Learning At Home / Government Agencies

Parent Training and Information Centers / Recreation


Government Agencies

Contact Information

Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services
42 West Madison
Chicago, Illinois 60602
Phone (773) 553-1800
Fax (773) 553-1801
Email: odlss@cps.edu

 A good starting place for parents of students with disabilities is:

Un buen lugar para padres de estudiantes de Educacion Especial:

A Parent's Guide - Educational Rights and Responsibilities: Understanding Special Education in Illinois. 

Guia de Padres. Derechos y responsabilidades educacionales

This document is available in English and Spanish.  Este document esta disponible en Ingles y Español

The appendices also include quick references, a glossary of terms, and sample letters.

El glosario tambien incluye referencias rapidas, glosario de terminus y ejemplos de cartas.

 Communication and Collaboration

 CADRE'S Steps for Success

Edutopia's Home to School Connections Guide


Special Education Services

 Parent Rights

Parent Guide 
Illinois Student Records Keeper  

Parent Guide - 
Educational Rights and Responsibilities: Understanding Special Education in Illinois

Educational Rights and Responsibilities: Understanding Special Education in Illinois is a document, developed by the Illinois State Board of Education for parents and others to learn about the educational rights of children who have disabilities and receive special education services. (Updated 6/09)

Note: The following documents are in PDF File .pdf format. In order to view them correctly please visit http://www.adobe.com to download the most current version of Adobe Reader.


Paper copies of Educational Rights and Responsibilities are not available at this time. For questions regarding Educational Rights and Responsibilities call 217/782-5589.

Table of Contents

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Illinois Student Records Keeper for Parents of Students Who Receive Special Education Services

This booklet is for parents to use to keep important information about their child and his/her special education and related services. It is a companion to Educational Rights and Responsibilities: Understanding Special Education in Illinois.

Records play an important role as you plan your child’s education. Dates, people, meetings and reports are important throughout your child’s educational career. The records keeper was developed to assist parents in preparing for Individualized Education Program (IEP) and transition meetings; getting ready for evaluations and reevaluations; and keeping track of paperwork and other materials.

This booklet cross-references the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) publication, Educational Rights and Responsibilities: Understanding Special Education in Illinois. At the bottom of each page, locate the page number(s) that references a section or pages in the guide. The guide offers information to increase your knowledge and understanding about the topic or issue.

Illinois Student Records Keeper pdf file (1.37MB) 

Parents Guide
English Version

Parents Guide
Spanish Version