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Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

January/February 1999 issue of Poverty & Race

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
1325 S. Wabash
Chicago, IL 60605
Contact: Rene Heybach

Salazar v. Edwards was settled with a comprehensive written agreement in November 1996, with full implementation to occur in March 1997. Its chief accomplishments were to (a) create clear rules to apply re: who is homeless, choice of schools, mode of transportation, records and grievance issues; and (b) close a segregated and inferior school which was steering homeless children out of the regular neighborhood schools. The settlement has greatly expanded access to, and stability in, education for homeless children in Chicago. And, because the Illinois State Board of Education was a defendant, Illinois settled by adopting a far-reaching policy which requires schools throughout the state to make efforts to keep homeless children in the home school (the “school of origin”) whenever possible. Other important aspects of the settlement which call for proactive efforts by the Chicago Board of Education to find and serve homeless youth and coordinate community efforts to assist them are not being complied with. Indeed, the Homeless Education Program at the Chicago Public Schools appears resistant to initiating any efforts even remotely designed to enlarge services to these needy children. As the City of Chicago gentrifies, the public schools’ commitment to the poorest of youth seems weaker than ever. An article authored by counsel describing the long-term struggle of homeless parents in Salazar to force Chicago schools to comply with the McKinney Homeless Assistance Act educational provisions, “Enforcing the Educational Rights of Homeless Children and Youth: Focus on Chicago,” appeared in the May-June 1998 issue of Clearinghouse Review (Natl. Clearinghouse for Legal Services, 205 W. Monroe St., 2nd Floor, Chicago, IL 60606, 312/263-3830).

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