Chicago Public Schools under fire for defunding paralyzed school clerk's job

The Chicago Teachers Union is rallying around a longtime school clerk whose position they claim is being defunded next school year by Chicago Public Schools.

The CTU held a press conference on Tuesday where they called on CPS to save the job of Judy Mahoney, a veteran bilingual school clerk at Michael M. Byrne Elementary school in Garfield Ridge on the Southwest Side.

"There's absolutely no justification in the world that would explain the complete and utter disregard and lack of empathy shown by CPS to Judy," said Ald. Silvana Tabares (23rd Ward).


Mahoney was paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident in 2017 and was displaced from Whittier Elementary School because the school could not accommodate her wheelchair.

She was then relocated to Byrne, which is wheelchair accessible, but funding for her position was cut by CPS for next school year, the CTU says.

"Had Whittier been accessible, Judy would not now be confronting unemployment simply for having the misfortune of being the victim of a catastrophic auto accident," the CTU said in statement. "Judy's colleagues are calling on CPS to start remedying these inequities by reversing their push to drive Judy out, and instead fully fund her position so she can continue to serve her school community."


CPS spokesman James Gherardi said the district created an additional clerk position at Byrne three years ago to support Mahoney, and while it is now being defunded, the district is attempting to help her secure a new position.

"Chicago Public Schools is committed to ensuring that employees who require accommodations have access to the work environments they need to perform their duties," Gherardi said in a statement. "District officials reassured Ms. Mahoney today [Tuesday] that her position at Byrne will be extended through next school year if the available roles we have identified at other accessible schools do not work out." 

Gherardi said any suggestion that Chicago Public Schools has been unsupportive of Mahoney, "is uninformed."

Tabares and CTU leadership say CPS' decision shows the need for an elected school board.