CPS is committed to strengthening relationships and collaboration among families, schools, and community partners through the creation of a shared vision. CPS offers parent involvement specialists to work with families and community members on solutions, services and resources to address the special education needs of their children.
Meet our CPS Parent Involvement Specialists
Janice Gutierrez is a proud mom to two young adults with disabilities. She is a bilingual public interest attorney and civil rights advocate who, until recently, was involved in special education advocacy in her home district of Puerto Rico. Previously, she worked as a child support prosecutor at the Puerto Rico Child Support Administration, as Directing Attorney at Puerto Rico Legal Services, Inc., the ACLU of Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rico Civil Rights Commission, and as a staff attorney at the Community Law Office and the Puerto Rico Civil Rights Institute. In addition to a juris doctor, she holds a bachelor’s degree in education.
Kimberly Johnson-Evans is the proud mother of a young adult who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at age six. Through advocacy, she has gained knowledge and skill sets as an advocate, due process and IEP liaison for families, and is well versed in the Department of Human Services Waiver program, as it relates to options and consent decrees. For the past four years, she was a Ligas Family Advocate with The Arc of Illinois, a nonprofit organization supporting all persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities. She has been involved in the Chicagoland Autism Connection Parent Support Group for over 18 years and currently serves as President of the Board of Directors. Chicagoland Autism Connection Family and Professional Support Group is one of the largest family support groups in the state of Illinois. Kimberly received her formal education at Indiana Wesleyan University. Prior to her advocacy outreach, Kimberly worked for two large nonprofits as the membership marketing manager for a combined 20 years of service.
Michelle Burgess is the proud mother of three children, two of which are diverse learners. All three children are currently being educated within CPS. Michelle understands advocacy for children. Michelle’s knowledge and skills gained while seeking supports and services for her children have allowed her to successfully walk within the role as parent and community liaison for over 10 years. She also has hands-on classroom experience, having worked as a substitute teacher. Michelle holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism/broadcasting and a master’s in theology.
Lynn Olavarria is the proud mother of two young adult diverse learners now attending college. While her children were young, she was very active in their education, advocating for learning supports, collaborating with teachers, and serving on the Local School Council (LSC). That experience inspired her to help fellow parents of diverse learners looking for guidance about available supports and services. Lynn volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate, CASA of Cook County. As a CASA volunteer, she successfully advocated on behalf of her assigned foster child to receive specialized supports and services through the child’s IEP. Recently, she also volunteered for the Education Pro Bono Clinic at the Legal Assistance Foundation.
Parent & Educator Partnership
Illinois Autism Training and Technical Assistance Project,
Illinois Service Resource Center, Project Reach
Family Resource Center on Disabilities
Northern Illinois Parent Training and Information Center
Equip for Equality
Additional Supports for Parents
Diverse Learners Parent Advisory Council
A community of parents with shared interest in supporting the needs of diverse learners and enhancing the services and supports that CPS provides
Parent University and FACE2
CPS’s go-to resource for parent training, student and family supports, volunteering in the school, and engaging in the community on a host of education initiatives
STARnet Support and Technical Assistance
A regional source of information, tools, training, and technical assistance to support families with young children with developmental delays and special needs
November Parent University
Parent University Training