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A Closed CPS Charter School Leaves Student Without Transcript He Needs For College

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A single piece of paper.

That's the only thing stopping a former CPS student from reaching his goals. It's a copy of his high school transcript he's been trying to get his hands on for more than a year.

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reports the request should have been pretty straightforward. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) handles transcript requests all the time.

But David Shields went to a CPS charter school that abruptly closed down in 2016. That left the school district and the state confused about who to turn to.

David Shields is a fighter. He spent more than half of his life in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in Chicago.

"I went through seven different foster homes. I was in five to six group homes," Shields said.

Now he wants to continue working with youth in care living in a group home near his new home in Florida. But he needs to get a college degree.

Shields went to Prologue – Joshua Johnston Fine Arts and Design Charter School on Chicago's South Side. His 2008 diploma is signed and dated. But the transcript he sent his college wasn't complete.

"I called the advisors' office and they said there's a hold on your account because you don't have a graduation date," Shield said.

That was a year ago. Since then, Shields has been asking CPS and the Illinois State Board of Education for help.

"I email them almost weekly and I get the same response: 'we're still looking.'"

It turns out, after a final graduation in 2015, the charter school operator's contracts weren't renewed in 2016. In 2017, Chicago Public Schools took Prologue to court for allegedly mismanaging $25 million in public funds.

The complaint also noted that the school failed to provide student records, like transcripts. CPS told CBS 2 they advise Prologue's former students to reach out to either the Illinois Network of Charter Schools or to the Illinois State Board of Education.

The ISBE said to reach out to CPS. A notice on the Illinois Network of Charter Schools website said please contact CPS' Office of Innovation and Incubation.

So far, no response.

"I hope I can hope for the best and plan for the worst," Shields said. "But what is that plan?"

Attempts to contact the former owners of Prologue have been unsuccessful. CBS 2 is still waiting to hear from CPS' Office of Innovation and Incubation.

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