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Isabel’s morning briefing

Friday, May 17, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* ICYMI: Illinois School Districts Sent Kids to a For-Profit Out-of-State Facility That Isn’t Vetted or Monitored. Propublica

Two years ago, Illinois lawmakers tried to help students with extreme needs who had a limited number of schools available to them.

They changed state law to allow public money to fund students’ tuition at special education boarding schools, including those out of state, that Illinois had not vetted and would not monitor. School districts, not the Illinois State Board of Education, would be responsible for oversight.

In solving one problem, however, Illinois created another: Districts now can send students to residential schools that get no oversight from the states in which they are located.

The facility that has benefited the most has been a for-profit private school in New York that’s now under scrutiny by disability rights groups. A ProPublica investigation uncovered reports of abuse, neglect and staffing shortages at Shrub Oak International School as it tries to serve a population of students with autism and other complex behavioral and medical issues. Shrub Oak has never sought or obtained approval from New York to operate a school for students with disabilities, which means it gets no oversight from the state.

The ProPublica investigation further found that some districts in Illinois have abdicated their own responsibility to monitor students’ education and welfare. Unlike some other states, Illinois law doesn’t require districts to visit the out-of-state facilities that students from Illinois attend, and some districts have never visited Shrub Oak. Records and interviews also show that districts in Illinois and other states have not always held Shrub Oak accountable for notifying them when students are injured or physically restrained, even though a provision in some contracts requires that the school let districts know.

Gov. Pritzker will be at Chicago Cut Steakhouse at 5 pm to appear in conversation with City Club of Chicago. Click here to watch.

*** Isabel’s Top Picks ***

* Tribune | More Illinois health care facilities would have to report patient abuse under new bill: Under current law hospitals must promptly report allegations of patient abuse, including sexual abuse by a health care worker, to the Illinois Department of Public Health, triggering an investigation into the hospital’s handling of the matter. But allegations of patient abuse that occur at doctors’ offices or clinics outside of hospital walls, even those connected with hospitals, are not currently required to be reported to the state’s health department. “This is just a simple commonsense fix to make clear that hospitals have responsibility for providers at any of their facilities,” said Illinois Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, who is behind the legislation. “It kind of falls into that category, do we really need to tell somebody out loud that that’s what we expect of them? Apparently we do, so we are.”

* NBC | Fight over the role of library in small Illinois town: A culture war is playing out in the small town of Metropolis, Ill., where the public library and a church are battling over the library’s role. The issues include prayer in the library and the removal of thousands of books. NBC News’ Antonia Hylton reports.

*** Statehouse News ***

* WGIL | Frerichs: Optimism about state budget passage, and the state still has money: Frerichs, a former lawmaker himself, says he’s optimistic lawmakers will pass a budget before the self-imposed end of May deadline, but like many, isn’t completely sure. In response to a question about the recent memo the Governor’s budget office put out urging lawmakers to make cuts if proposed tax hikes increase don’t pass, Frerichs says the administration of then-Governor Bruce Rauner piled on debt, instead of trying to balance the budget. Most of the time Rauner was Governor, however, Democrats were still in control of the Illinois House and Senate. Frerichs does support a balanced budget. But, is the state broke? Frerichs says no. But, there is a caveat.

* NBC Chicago | Pritzker praises Justice Department move to reclassify marijuana: President Joe Biden discussed the decision in a social media post Thursday, criticizing the “failed approach” to regulations of the drug. Pritzker, who signed Illinois’ legalization of marijuana during his first term in office, had a succinct reaction to the news. “At last,” he said.

*** Statewide ***

* Crain’s | Here’s a global biz that Illinois still dominates: The days have largely gone by in which Illinois could boast of being No. 1 at anything. Printing and steel and skyscraper construction are all in eclipse. But there is one facet of the economy in which the state still stands virtually supreme: It is the nation’s top producer of soybeans, which have emerged as the bulwark of the regional farm economy. Illinois farmers typically trailed farmers in neighboring Iowa in the production of both corn and soybeans until about a decade ago, when the state surged ahead in soy (it sill lags behind in corn). As a nation, Brazil has risen in recent years to be the top-ranked soybean producer, but its transportation network is so outmoded that export opportunities are comparatively limited. The world’s biggest importers of soy — places like China and the European Union and Japan — now regularly send their trade delegations through O’Hare International Airport and then on downstate to visit farms, soy processors and farm equipment makers.

*** Chicago ***

* Crain’s | Chicago won’t give up nearly $50 million it’s owed under Bears proposal: But an overlooked provision in the state legislation authorizing the 2% hotel tax that funds the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority ensures that, while those looming payments would mean short-term pain for the city’s annual budget, all of the money will eventually be repaid, beginning as early as 2033. If a deal for the Bears materializes in Springfield, the tax structure would remain in place, city officials confirmed to Crain’s. That would ensure the city receives what it’s owed, but could push out the repayment beyond 2033.

* WBEZ | Chicago sees spike in Black teens out of school and work, study shows: “It seems that many teens are not successfully transitioning from high school to going out and getting a job, going to college, entering a trade or receiving any sort of education,” said Matthew Wilson, study author and an associate director at the Great Cities Institute. “Those pathways were disrupted by the pandemic.” […] Black 16-to-19–year-olds saw their rates of employment and school-going decline between 2021 and 2022, widening a gap that existed before the pandemic. Some 17.5% of Black teens were out of school and not working in 2022, up from 9.4% in 2021.

* Sun-Times | Kim Foxx wouldn’t prosecute gun cases tied to some minor traffic stops under new plan: The draft policy aims to undercut a dramatic rise in stops that disproportionately target people of color and rarely lead to arrests. “It felt like it was time to do something about it,” said Foxx, who is stepping down as Cook County state’s attorney this year.

* CBS Chicago | Spike in opioid overdoses in Chicago has officials concerned, preparing for summer: Chicago public health officials have sounded the alarm after a rise in drug overdoses this past weekend. […] This comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports an overall decrease in opioid overdose deaths across the country for the first time since 2019.

* Fox Chicago | Chicago alderman criticizes decision to only partially close Clark St. for outdoor dining: Downtown Chicago Alderman Brendan Reilly is strongly criticizing the decision to close off a section of Clark St. in River North for outdoor dining while still allowing vehicle traffic. […] The 42nd Ward Alderman is urging the mayor’s office to reconsider the plan, which involves shutting down curb lanes for outdoor dining while leaving middle lanes open to vehicles. Reilly argues that a majority of his constituents are in favor of a complete closure of Clark Street between Grand and Kinzie to create a plaza for restaurants to offer outdoor dining.

* Sun-Times | Chicago Tribune journalists file discrimination suit against paper: Seven Chicago Tribune journalists filed a class-action lawsuit Thursday against the newspaper and its owner, alleging violations of equal pay based on sexual and racial discrimination. The lawsuit claims systematic pay disparities between female and male employees, as well as between Black and white employees under its current ownership of Alden Global Capital and dating back to its previous owner, the Tribune Publishing Co.

*** Cook County and Suburbs ***

* Sun-Times | PPP fraud investigation sees former Cook County correctional officer charged: Jareli Reyes, 32, is accused of fraudulently obtaining $41,666 in loans in 2021 through the federal Paycheck Protection Program that was established to provide relief to businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Reyes, who resigned last year, is charged with theft, income-tax fraud and wire fraud.

* Daily Herald | DuPage County auditor on delayed reports: the buck stops with me: Outdated software and an ongoing controversy surrounding bills from the DuPage County clerk’s office have delayed quarterly audit reports for nearly four years. The last quarterly auditor’s report covered the third fiscal quarter of 2020, DuPage County Auditor Bill White, who took office in late 2020, told county board members on Tuesday.

* Daily Herald | ‘It won’t sit fallow’: Rolling Meadows forges ahead with zoning review near Arlington Park: Despite the uncertainty over the future of the Chicago Bears at Arlington Park, officials in nearby Rolling Meadows are still proceeding with planning and zoning studies on two key areas near the shuttered racetrack. Results of the first study — on the Kirchoff Road corridor — are due back from a consultant in October, Mayor Lara Sanoica said during the annual State of the City address Thursday morning. The so-called subarea plan will be followed in 2025 by a review of the city’s northwest industrial district, which is the area directly west of the old horse racing facility.

* Sun-Times | Benedictine monk at Marmion Academy pleads guilty to battery, still lands on monastery’s sex abuser list: Brother Joseph Charron, who taught theology for years at the Catholic high school in Aurora, initially was charged with numerous sex crimes involving a now-former student. He recently pleaded guilty to aggravated battery, and the sex crime charges were dropped. Still, his Benedictine abbey has now placed him on its list of credibly accused child sex abusers.

* Daily Herald | How did we do? Aurora police surveying citizens in first-of-its-kind initiative: The Aurora Police Department is now doing the same of its clients — citizens who call for assistance — through a survey sent to people who’ve had contact with its personnel. And in an initiative believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, the department is posting daily updated results on a public online dashboard.

*** Downstate ***

* SJ-R | Springfield’s PrideFest organizer hopes festivalgoers ‘enjoy the journey’: PrideFest, the one-day event in downtown Springfield is hosted yearly by the Phoenix Center, an LGBTQ center offering public health service, social education and various group activities to the greater central Illinois community. Typically, Pride parades are held in June during Pride month, but the capitol city does it a little bit differently. This year’s theme is “Enjoy the Journey”, which Williams says since Pridefest’s inception in 2010, the festival has grown to meet the bustling crowds.

* WCIA | ‘One of a kind’ dispensary opens in Danville: Seven Point just opened down the road from the Golden Nugget Casino in Danville. It’s casting a wide net of possible clientele. The store also sells vinyl records and art. They see possible advantages in how this new business can help the economy. They also say it might just be a solution to currently underfunded programs in town.

* WSIL | More Than $110,000 Donated to Fully Fund Next Honor Flight in Southern Illinois: The Allan and Wanda McCabe Family Foundation donated $112,000 to the Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois. The Veterans Honor Flight recently completed their twelfth mission last week where 88 veterans were honored and welcomed home at Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois.

       

6 Comments
  1. - Silent Budgeteer - Friday, May 17, 24 @ 8:44 am:

    As far as placements at Shrub Oak go, their rates will increase to nearly $600,000 per year per student at the beginning of the fiscal year. In addition, after the first Illinois student was placed there under the revised statute, Shrub Oak actually started trying to poach students from approved facilities in Illinois.


  2. - H-W - Friday, May 17, 24 @ 8:55 am:

    The Metropolis Library Board story is horrible.

    Insisting on organized praying in the library because - why? It would seem obvious that the goal of organizing public prayer meetings in a public space is a direct attempt to influence the public space. If doing so involves proselytizing against Billy Jean King being in a book in the library because she was not heterosexual, then your message is one of hate and exclusion.

    What are you praying for in the library that has to be prayed in the library? Praying for churches and religious fundamentalists to take control of the Board so as to eliminate books and videos and other media products that do not exhibit fundamentalist values is exclusionary and hateful toward those who are not “literalists” (ironic).

    Openly insisting that Satan has infiltrated the Board and is coming after the children of Metropolis because, why? Why now? Are the children of Metropolis now exhibiting signs and ? I would require evidence of demon possession before changing the community on the basis of fear of possession. Speaking of manifestations of possession and demonic powers, I would ask why were there no signs prior to today. Given that some “adult themed” books have been in the library for decades, I would need an explanation and evidence to demonstrate that Satan has only now appeared and did not do so over the past many decades while some of those same books were in the library.

    If Satan has descended upon Metropolis now in order to steal and possess Metropolis’ children today, what evidence of changes in Metropolis’ children do you have now relative to a few years ago, to demonstrate your claim that Satan is actively possessing your children?

    The only evidence I see is that old (white) people embracing a very simplistic interpretation of (a) the history or Israel, and (b) a dream by a profit, refuse to accept and embrace the teachings of one whom they claim as their savior, who denounces beliefs of hate and exclusion and taking up arms and ascending to positions of public power.

    But I could be wrong. My thoughts are based on my regular readings of the New Testament, sans Revelations (the dream-state book).


  3. - Two Left Feet - Friday, May 17, 24 @ 9:09 am:

    “Sun-Times | Kim Foxx wouldn’t prosecute gun cases tied to some minor traffic stops under new plan”

    Since one of the factors for this discretion is the impact on violence by the enforcement of the law, going forward the state’s attorney should collect data on whether violence is impacted by the lack of prosecution on drug or gun charges from traffic stops.


  4. - Jerry - Friday, May 17, 24 @ 9:18 am:

    Cetainly one book that CANNOT be allowed in the Metropolis Public Library is the bible.

    It is a graphic, sex novel that children should not be reading.


  5. - Liz - Friday, May 17, 24 @ 11:21 am:

    Honestly, it is really disturbing that simultaneously we have city leaders saying there are dire labor shortages which migrant workers will fill, and this new report says that young minority men cannot find work. Are they not willing to work at the jobs where employers say they are desperate for workers, or are those employers not willing to hire them?


  6. - This is ridiculous... - Friday, May 17, 24 @ 11:48 am:

    The Metropolis story bothers me to an extent I can hardly describe. I feel like we’re back in the 80s when Dungeons and Dragons and rock’n'roll were the tools of the devil. Such ignorance.


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