CHICAGO - Governor Pat Quinn today made key appointments to the Truancy in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Task Force which has been charged with identifying different strategies and approaches to help educators and CPS administration address the truancy problems in the City of Chicago. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to prepare every child for success in college, career and beyond.
"These individuals are committed to getting to the root of the city's truancy problem and fixing it," Governor Quinn said. "The task force will look at the evidence and work hand-in-hand with my administration and Chicago Public School staff to turn the page and get all Chicago students in school and on the way to a bright future."
The Task Force was proposed by State Representative Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora) following a Chicago Tribune report that revealed the excessive truancy issue in Chicago Public Schools from grades K-8.
The Governor's appointments to the Truancy in CPS Task Force include:
Leslie Juby serves as a member of the School Success Task Force which is finalizing recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly around suspension, expulsion, and truancy policies. Her background is in education having served as a public school teacher, a school board member, and currently as a trustee for the Illinois Math & Science Academy. Ms. Juby has a B.A. from Governor’s State University.
Melissa Mitchell leads the Federation for Community Schools which promotes partnerships between schools and other community resources to better support students and families through a comprehensive set of opportunities and supports. She is also a member of the Illinois P-20 Council and active member of its Family, Youth and Community Engagement Committee. Ms. Mitchell has a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an M.of Ed. from DePaul University.
Jack Wuest serves as the head of the Alternative Schools Network, a Chicago based organization which works to develop and expand community based services and supports for inner city students. He brings years of experience as an advocate for dropout prevention and recovery, youth employment and enrichment opportunities, and wrap around services. Mr. Wuest has a B.A. from Xavier University.
Fanny Diego Alvarez is Director of Community Schools at Enlace, where she works to enhance attendance and improve student outcomes at schools in the Little Village community. She graduated from a CPS school prior to completing undergraduate work at the University of Illinois at Chicago and pursuing graduate work at the University of Chicago.
Maria Trejo currently serves as Director of the Elev8 program at Ames Middle School where she empowers families to play a more active role in their children’s education. She got her start in education over a decade ago through the Logan Square Neighborhood Association’s parent mentor program. Ms. Trejo has a B.A. from Northeastern Illinois University.
Dr. Juliet Bromer is an Assistant Research Scientist at the Erikson Institute where she works on issues related to early childhood programs and family relationships. Her research focuses on family and community support roles and high quality services in child care settings. Dr. Bromer has a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
Kareem Pender currently serves as Senior Director of Human Capital and Education Programs at the Chicago Urban League. Previously, he held positions within the public sector and community based organizations working in the areas of education and family reunification. He is also active on several advisory groups around issues related to youth development and violence prevention. Mr. Pender has a B.S. from the University of Illinois.
Sheila Venson is the Executive Director of the Youth Connection Charter, the largest alternative education system in the state. She brings nearly forty years of experience working in schools and communities around issues related to dropouts, truancy and serving high need youth. Ms. Venson holds a B.A. from Spelman College.
This summer, Governor Quinn signed a new law that lowers the compulsory school age for students in Illinois in order to ensure all children have the opportunity to build a solid foundation for academic achievement. The law will also help to combat truancy. Research shows that children who start school at an earlier age are less likely to drop out of school, be placed in special education or commit crimes, and more likely to attend college.