William Hrabe

  • Hosted by Equip for Equality
  • Sponsored by Aon, Kirkland & Ellis
  • Service location Chicago, Illinois
  • Law school University of Illinois College of Law
  • Issue area Education/Special Education
  • Fellowship class year 2019
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Will advised and represented low-income families to remedy violations found by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) of Chicago Public School’s (CPS) widespread delay and denial of special education services to potentially thousands of children with disabilities.

ISBE found that CPS implemented policies and procedures that systemically delayed or denied services to potentially thousands of students with disabilities. There are over 52,000 children with disabilities enrolled in CPS, many of whom were harmed by procedural violations that were designed to cut $29 million in special education funding. Will’s project identified those students who were harmed, ensured they receive the services to which they are entitled, and created supports to ensure that students have access to the services they deserve in the future.

Fellowship Plans

During the two-year Fellowship, Will:

  • Attained a leadership position with the Special Education Advocacy Coalition of Chicago (SPEACC), the group that brought the CPS violations to ISBE. He worked with CPS, ISBE, and other advocates to develop a remedial system that will automatically provide compensatory services to 10,515 students.
  • Established a CPS Public Inquiry Hotline that provided free legal advice and information about what CPS did and whether their child might be eligible for extra services to nearly one hundred families.
  • Developed numerous fact sheets to help spread awareness and information about CPS’s violations and presented webinars to parents/guardians on special education law generally, CPS’s violations specifically, and students’ special education rights during Covid-related school closures.
  • Successfully advocated the ISBE Board extend their monitoring/oversight of CPS due to their violations.

Next Steps

Will plans to continue practicing special education law in Chicago and representing students with disabilities. He will remain involved with SPEACC and will continue serving as an advocate for students who were harmed by CPS.


Chicago’s special education department will be monitored for another year

Chicago parents could have more time to file special education complaints

Chicago Public Schools To Compensate Special Ed Students Illegally Denied Services

CPS Offers Millions in Added Support for Special Ed Students Illegally Denied Services

I have seen how vital these services can be, and as a result, I am best suited to ensure that students within CPS have the same opportunities as those living elsewhere.

William Hrabe /
Equal Justice Works Fellow

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