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Court Hearings Resume On Lawsuits Over CPS Closings

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Dozens of parents and students were on hand today for the first day of hearings against CPS. The suits claim the schools' closings are racially discriminatory and violate the rights of special needs students. Christian Farr reports. (Published Tuesday, Jul 16, 2013)

    The showdown over dozens of Chicago Public School closings returns to federal court Wednesday as hearings continue on two lawsuits aimed at stopping the closures.

    Despite protests from parents and the Chicago Teachers Unions, 50 schools closed their doors early this summer as part of a plan approved by the city's Board of Education.

    CTU Attorney Explains Lawsuit

    [CHI] CTU Attorney Explains Lawsuit
    Robert Bloch, the union's general counsel, says the Chicago Board of Education violated state law when it votd to shut down 10 elementary schools. (Published Wednesday, May 29, 2013)

    One lawsuit alleges racial discrimination, claiming the closures unfairly target African-American students. According to the first witness called Tuesday in court, an estimated 87 percent of the students affected by the closings are African-American, even though black students make up less than half of all CPS students.

    "It is clear that the school closings have a disproportionate impact on African-American students," Dr. Pauline Lipman, a University of Chicago professor, testified.

    Outbursts, Protests as School Board Closes Schools

    [CHI] Outbursts, Protests as School Board Closes Schools
    Aldermen, parents and community leaders all made emotional pleas to keep schools open but it wasn't enough. Mary Ann Ahern reports. (Published Wednesday, May 22, 2013)

    Another of the CTU's lawsuits, filed in May, claims the closures violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

    During the first day of hearings, parent Mandi Swan testified that her 10-year-old son, who is moderately autistic, will have a tough time adjusting to a new classroom setting because of his disability.

    A Tale of Two Schools

    [CHI] A Tale of Two Schools
    While Mahalia Jackson Elementary was spared by the Chicago Board of Education's action, students at Betsy Ross Elementary and their parents were lamenting closure. Kim Vatis reports. (Published Wednesday, May 22, 2013)

    "He will have to relearn things," Swan said. "This is big to move him from one school to another."

    The closures are estimated to impact about 5,000 kids with special needs, and the suit alleges the closures don't allow for adequate prep time for them to relocate. It argues that students with autism, for example, need more time to adjust.

    At the end of this week's hearings, a judge will decide whether to delay these closings and set a trial date. It would be a huge victory for the parents and the CTU if that happened.