Single-credential special education certification
system must be ready by summer – Gettleman

May 15, 200

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Chicago –The Illinois State Board of Education must have a single-credential special education certification system ready by July 1, so that schools will be able to comply with the new system this fall, Federal Judge Robert Gettleman ordered Monday.

Judge Gettleman directed the State Board to file new transition rules by May 21 supporting such a single-credential system. Gettleman is overseeing implementation of the new certification system as part of the 1992 Corey H. lawsuit.

Gettleman’s order Monday followed his denial of the State Board’s motion to let the parties to the Corey H. lawsuit consider an alternative proposal that would have created a dual-credential special education certification system.

“We truly felt that the two-credential proposal was the best possible answer to all of the concerns raised by the Corey H. litigation,” said State Superintendent of Education Glenn W. McGee.

“It would have most effectively met the needs of students for both individualized instruction and placement in a least-restrictive environment,” he said.

“And it would have helped teachers -- the people who will actually be working with our children -- by giving them the flexibility they need to give all of our students the education they need and deserve,” McGee said.

The State Board suggested the two-credential system two weeks ago. The proposal came after hundreds of special education teachers, administrators and parents of special education children, speaking at a series of statewide public hearings, said a single-credential certification would be overly broad, worsen the shortage of special education teachers and ultimately harm special education students

The proposed dual-credential system would have more closely matched teachers’ skills to students’ special education needs than the proposed single-credential system.

Teachers working with students whose needs require fewer adaptations to the general curriculum would have received one kind of endorsement on their teaching certificates.

Another endorsement would have been created for teachers working with children needing more significant modifications to the general education curriculum and/or more individualized instruction, including skills for promoting their independence.

A significant amount of research says that special-needs students usually have more than one disability and are better served by teachers able to address a range of challenges.

The proposed two-credential system would have replaced the “Learning Behavior Specialist I (LBS-1).”

Gettleman on Monday ordered the State Board to file paperwork supporting a single-credential, (“LBS-1”-like) special education system consistent with the content-area standards that the judge approved February 27, 2001.

The Corey H. lawsuit, filed in federal court in May 1992, alleged that both the Chicago Public School system and the State Board failed to ensure that disabled students were properly placed in the “least restrictive environment” as federal special education law requires.

The Chicago Public Schools settled their portion of the lawsuit immediately before trial.  The State Board went to trial in October 1997, and the court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in February 1998.