Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
  Cook County has the largest unified trial court system in the world, disposing over 6 million cases in 1990 alone.
   
     
     
     



CPS inspector: High school at Cook County Jail phonied up attendance

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times
by Lauren FitzPatrick

The alternative high school operated by the Chicago Public Schools inside the Cook County Jail has been falsifying credits and attendance for hundreds of students for years, cheating some of the city’s most at-risk students of an education, CPS’ inspector general has found.

In a report Tuesday detailing a litany of academic fraud, Inspector General Nicholas Schuler called the York Alternative High School at 2700 S. California “a credit mill.” Schuler is urging CPS to fire its principal, Sharnette Sims.

York has routinely granted attendance and course credit to students who already had left the jail or been moved to solitary confinement, where they couldn’t attend classes, according to Schuler. In one case, he said, a student who had gotten out of jail and was killed a week later was still being listed as attending class despite being dead, Schuler found.

His investigation, which looked at York’s practices as far back as 2012, was prompted by a February 2016 Chicago Sun-Times column in which Neil Steinberg wrote that former teachers contacted him after he’d toured classrooms, “claiming the principal pressured them to give inmates credit for classes they never finished.”

Those former teachers were correct, Schuler said.

He also other problems, including a “deficient and dishonest course structure” — which was described as “blended learning” — that combined multiple courses in a single classroom under the direction of teachers who were unaware of which students needed which classes. One teacher reported a student getting course credit for watching a science documentary series by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

“We agree having a diploma would be great,” Schuler said in an interview, but he added, “giving them credit for when they were in solitary confinement, that’s disingenuous. That isn’t real help. You’re depriving them of the benefit of an education.”

A student studies at York Alternative High School inside the Cook County Jail. | Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times

In his report, he cited standardized test scores at the jail school that showed the lowest growth in reading and math growth out of all of CPS’ so-called “options” schools, which serve at-risk students. “Despite the favorable graduation, credit-attainment and attendance rates reported, actual student learning has been minimal,” the report said.

Teachers also complained to him that Sims, the principal, discouraged them from reporting dangerous incidents.

In recommending that Sims be fired, Schuler wrote, “The school cannot falsify data and award credits that were not earned.”

He said CPS officials — who received his report in June — have told him they are still considering what discipline the principal merits.

Inside York Alternative High School at the Cook County Jail. | Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times

Sims — who was paid $139,000 last year to oversee the jail school, about 200 students and their teachers — didn’t respond to requests for comment Tuesday. Her CPS evaluation is based in part on her school’s attendance.

CPS spokesman Michael Passman said officials are reviewing Schuler’s findings.

Cara Smith, a top aide to Sheriff Tom Dart, said the report “is certainly discouraging” and “confirms the concerns we’ve had about what was happening in the program.”

Previously, in a posting on the school’s website, Sims wrote: “At the end of their tenure here, students should feel empowered to transition with the innermost mind and skill sets that allow competent men and women to bear responsibility for accepting and accessing pathways to productive citizenship . . . The work we do on a day-to-day basis speaks volumes about who we are, and what we believe about the young men and women we unselfishly serve.”

When Sims took over at York in 2012, she shifted classes to a 100-minute block schedule that let students finish a course in a seven-week term, or six terms per school year. That allowed students to take as many as 18 courses in a year. Graduation rates soared to the second-highest level among all CPS schools for at-risk students. But the shorter terms — about 37 days each — made attending every day crucial.

According to a former longtime teacher who was interviewed by investigators, that meant students could miss only one day of class to legally earn credit. But students frequently had to miss class to “go to court, or they’re in confinement, or there are other security issues, and they don’t come to class,” the teacher, who spoke on the condition of not being identified by name, told the Sun-Times. “We were forced to issue credits.”

On a school website, Sims touted improvements in the numbers of students earning credits and in students’ average length of stay.

But Schuler found that, from 2012 to 2016, as many as 342 students were improperly kept on the attendance rolls after they were released from the jail — in 54 instances, they stayed on the books for more than 100 extra days. York issued credits 126 times to students during false enrollments, he found.

According to Schuler, Sims pressured teachers to find a way to credit students who hadn’t spent enough time in class to pass the course.

“Based on the totality of the evidence,” Schuler wrote, “the principal clearly established an environment at the schools where teachers were expected to overcome their concerns about short enrollments and missed classroom instruction and find a way to distribute credits to students.”



Recent Headlines

Wilmette minimum wage working group surveys businesses, will survey residents
Monday, February 19, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Anti-soda tax PAC jumps in Cook County Board races
Monday, February 19, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Circuit clerk gets stay on e-filing order
Friday, February 16, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Hundreds gather at Bridgeport church for Cmdr. Paul Bauer's wake
Friday, February 16, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Dart goes to court in effort to find person accusing him of domestic violence
Friday, February 16, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Study says property tax system favors rich
Friday, February 16, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Property Tax System ‘More Regressive’ in Cook County, Report Finds
Friday, February 16, 2018
WTTW Chicago Tonight

VIDEO: Cook County Jail detainees applaud CPD commander’s alleged killer
Friday, February 16, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Blockbuster report: How Cook County tax system shafts the little guy
Thursday, February 15, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

Order over lawsuits in Dorothy Brown’s office put on hold by appeals court
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Dorothy Brown can't 'end-run' First Amendment, judge says in denying delay
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County prosecutors toss more convictions tainted by corrupt ex-Chicago police Sgt. Ronald Watts
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Handwritten documents, Manila folders, carbon paper — welcome to Cook County criminal court
Monday, February 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

2 Cook County Commissioners missed over a third of Forest Preserve meetings
Sunday, February 11, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Jail guards lock down sweet union contract—despite sour budget mess
Sunday, February 11, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Running for judge, Dorothy Brown’s inspector general accepts donation from bos
Friday, February 09, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook Co. President Urges Trump To Stop ICE Arrests In Courthouses
Wednesday, February 07, 2018
Beverly Patch

Voting in Jail? New Bill Seeks to Expand Ballot Access for Detainees
Wednesday, February 07, 2018
WTTW Chicago Tonight

COOK COUNTY BOARD COMMISSIONER PROPOSES HEARING ON POLICE OVERSIGHT
Wednesday, February 07, 2018
WBEZ BGA

Assessor Berrios Extends Deadline for Senior and Senior Freeze Exemption Applications
Wednesday, February 07, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP