Diverse Learners

Special Education Supports and Services

The Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services (ODLSS) provides the tools and resources to ensure that all diverse learners receive a high quality public education that prepares students for success.

ODLSS is responsible for student evaluations, creating and monitoring Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), and working with schools, staff, and families to fulfill these plans towards greater student development and achievement. ODLSS uses a data-driven approach to best support the needs of each individual student, and does so in compliance with federal and state regulations regarding special education, including the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.


On May 5, 2017, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) received an Illinois State Board of Education Complaint regarding the district’s transportation procedures for preschool students with disabilities who require different pick-up or drop-off locations. In light of the State’s determinations, CPS is committed to providing transportation as a related service to all eligible preschool students with disabilities to and from and between locations other than their home. For example, an eligible preschool student may be picked up at home, dropped off at school to receive special education services, and then picked up and taken to a child care or community-based early learning program within the city of Chicago. If you have any questions regarding pre-k transportation services for students with disabilities, please contact the Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services at ODLSS@cps.edu.


Special Education Guidance to Remote Learning Procedures, Standards & Instructional Quality
[Arabic | Chinese | English | Polish | Spanish | Urdu]


Diverse Learner Supports and Services during COVID-19 School Closures
FAQ following ISBE Guidance - March 22, 2020 [English | Spanish]
FAQ following ISBE Guidance - April 20, 2020 [English | Spanish]
FAQ following ISBE Guidance - May 08, 2020 [English | Spanish]


Illinois School Code Update on Requests for IEP Service Documents
Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has amended the Illinois School Code so that parents can request service documents identified on their child's Individualized Education Program (IEP). Copies of IEP service records will be available to parents at the child's IEP meeting or may be requested at any time by contacting the school's Principal and Case Manager.

[English | Spanish]


Student Specific Corrective Action
The Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services outlines the Student Specific Corrective Action process that will take place at annual IEP meetings during the 2019–20 school year.

[View ISBE District Action Plan]


2019-20 Special Education Procedural Manuals and Guidance Documents
CPS values community input and is committed to listening and reflecting on public comments regarding proposed changes to its special education procedural manuals and guidance documents. Community members have 45 calendar days to review and provide feedback on the proposed 2019-20 special education procedural manuals and guidance documents.

[Review Policies & Procedures]

Assessment and Eligibility for Supports and Services

ODLSS programs serve students from early childhood to young adult. The department works closely with the Office of Early Childhood Education (OECE) to assess students and identify the services and supports they need. The teams are dedicated to providing all students with access to high quality, individualized instruction.

Early Childhood

Prescreenings in the Community

Early detection of developmental delays and high quality interventions can change a child’s development trajectory and improve outcomes for the child in a range of domains: physical and social/emotional health, language, communication, and cognitive development.

Child Find offers free screenings for developmental delays to Infants and young children who reside in the city. Screenings are held regularly at Chicago Public Libraries throughout the year. No appointments are necessary.

View the 2018-19 Child Find Screening Schedule for more info English | Spanish

CPS Student

Assessment in School

CPS’ school-based assessment teams are responsible for evaluating any child attending a CPS school for special supports and services. Teachers, social workers, health care and special education professionals, as well as parents are involved in the process, which typically begins with an assessment of the child’s performance in his/her current school.

If you have concerns about your child’s development or progress in school, we recommend talking to your child’s teacher, counselor or social worker first for their insights. Formal requests for an evaluation should be sent to school administration.

Elementary School Sports

Non-CPS Student

Assessment at a CPS Facility

Parents of students who reside in Chicago but do not attend a CPS school may request an evaluation by the Citywide Assessment team. The assessment process is the same as that for CPS students, except that formal and informal testing occurs at a CPS testing facility.

Discuss your concerns about your child’s development or progress in school with your child’s teacher, counselor or social worker first. Formal requests for an evaluation should be sent to your school administration, or you may contact CPS directly at 773-553-1800 for additional information and support.

Understanding Special Education

Find out about special education services and the framework of supports to help you advocate for the best possible education for your student.

Learn about special education

Services and Programs

Discover educational instruction, interventions, legal and compliance supports to assist diverse learners in CPS networks and schools.

Explore services and programs

Parent Supports

CPS is committed to strengthening relationships and collaboration between families, schools, and community partners through the creation of a shared vision. ODLSS provides a number of resources and training opportunities to assist parents in caring for their children and securing the right services, supports, and individualized instruction plans to aid their learning. Additionally, through groups like the Parent Advisory Council, parents can participate in and influence the development of district policies for students with disabilities.

Parent Involvement Specialists

Parent involvement specialists are special education experts and CPS employees, who collaborate with families and community members on building the right supports and individualized instruction programs for students.

Meet Our Specialists

Parent Advisory Council

The Parent Advisory Council helps ensure that parent interests are represented in the development of district policies. They provide input into the educational workshops and resources that CPS offers to parents.

Join the Parent Advisory Council


STARnet offers parent and educator training workshops, webinars, technical assistance, and a lending library for those caring for young children, from birth to age eight, with an emphasis on children with special needs and IEPs.

Visit starnetchicago.org


Community Events

10/13/18 8:30 am – 12:00 pm
Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD)/CPS Parent Empowerment Expo
MOPD Field Office,
2102 W. Ogden Avenue
Advance registration here.

Have Questions?

Complete and submit this form to request assistance and support for your child regarding special education.

Join the Diverse Learner mailing list to stay informed.

For questions around special education services, please contact the School Assignments | ODLSS District Representative assigned to support the specific school.

Contact Information

Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services

42 W. Madison St.
Chicago, IL 60602
Phone: 773-553-1800
Fax: 773-553-1801
Email: odlss@cps.edu

School Assignment Services
Phone: 773-553-1847

Student Transportation
Phone: 773-553-2860

Nursing Information
Phone: 773-553-4589

Page Last Modified on Friday, May 15, 2020