CPS lawyers questioning Saucedo staff about students who skipped ISAT

Written By BY TINA SFONDELES Staff Reporter Posted: 04/23/2014, 12:12am

Chicago Public Schools lawyers interviewed staff and teachers at Saucedo Scholastic Academy on the Southwest Side Friday in what the Chicago Teachers Union is calling an “ISAT witch hunt.”

CPS spokesman Joel Hood confirmed that the CPS law department was investigating the school at 2850 W. 24th Blvd.

“They’re not talking to students, only talking to teachers and in some cases, school staff,” Hood said of Friday’s on-site visit.

“This is the same kind of investigation we would do no matter what claim would come to our department. We have to have conversation with people, but specifically today, we’re talking with teachers and staff about allegations and misconduct with the ISAT.”

Several parents at both Drummond and Saucedo chose to opt-out their children from taking the eight-day test and some were supported by teachers who refused to administer the test.

Although CPS denied students were questioned Friday, Saucedo teacher Sarah Chambers said she saw three students brought into the principal office earlier in the morning, and that another student also claimed he was questioned.

Chambers said parents were tipped about the questioning and began calling the school and stopped by.

“Because of that I think they stopped the student interrogations and just did the teacher investigation,” Chambers said. “They were intimidating them [the teachers], trying to make them say things about their co-workers basically about the opt-out letter.”

Chambers said she was not questioned. She said she believed CPS chose to speak with teachers who gave out the ISAT, and also those who were not tenured.

She said many of the upset parents had special-education students at the school: “They just kept calling, saying ‘you cannot interrogate my child without me being there.’”

A day before, parents of Drummond students expressed anger alleging that CPS investigators yanked their children out of classrooms to interview them about the ISAT boycott without parental permission.

CPS officials confirmed that lawyers spoke with Drummond students on Thursday but only those who opted to talk with them.

The Chicago Teachers Union said in a statement that parents have alleged their children were asked if they were “paid” or “directly instructed by their teachers” to opt out of taking the test.

CTU has encouraged its members to invoke their Weingarten Rights and refuse to talk to CPS attorneys and district management.

CTU President Karen Lewis said the interrogation of students at both schools is about intimidation. She said CPS is creating a hostile atmosphere by having students believe their teachers can be fired for standing up for them.

“We are morally outraged to learn that CPS’s law department is going throughout the district interrogating our students and educators about how they came opting-out of the ISAT,” Lewis said in a statement.

“The ISAT is an unnecessary and obsolete standardized test that serves as nothing more than a tool for data collection for the district. It has no educational value. Instead of frightening little kids and intimidating parents who are demanding a high-quality education for their students, CPS is engaging in a witch-hunt. Once again, the city is wasting precious resources as it investigates alleged teacher misconduct.”

Email: tsfondeles@suntimes.com

Twitter: @TinaSfon

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