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Gages Lake School Reopens After Emergency Closing On Friday Due To Teacher Shortage

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A north suburban school with a significant number of special education students reopened Monday, after they were so short-staffed on Friday they were forced to cancel classes.

Hundreds of students at Gages Lake School were told to stay home Friday, because there were not enough teachers for the day.

School administrators said Gages Lake would be open on Monday, after they made several new hires.

The school serves students facing moderate to severe physical, emotional and other learning challenges.

Some parents said the school reopening Monday is not good enough. They want the district to come up with a permanent solution to the ongoing teacher shortage.

"They don't know how to control these kids, because of the short staff," said Joyce Babitz, whose granddaughter attends Gages Lake.

Parents said the school has been dealing with staffing shortages for some time, because many teachers have resigned and administrators have not kept up with the staff departures.

"They had one teacher and two paraprofessionals to each class, and that has been the standard to my son's classroom since he's been going there 11 years. Now there's only one teacher. So when a crisis comes about, there's nobody there to help them," said Lisa Azzano, whose son is a student at Gages Lake.

It's not the first time the school has dealt with staffing issues.

In June, two paraprofessional staff members resigned following investigations that they abused seven children.

In May, a parent contacted the school about a staff member restraining his child during a "behavioral intervention."

A review of security cameras found not one but seven children between the ages of seven and nine being handled roughly by the same two staffers, according to the Lake County Sheriff's department.

The district said the now former employees "did not comply" with the "deescalation and physical restraint protocols" despite extensive training.

The district claimed they notified police and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services immediately, but a letter to parents was not sent until more than a month later.

School administrators declined to comment on how many new teachers were recently hired. The district would only say the new hires who started on Monday were already trained and experienced in the classroom.


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