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Injunction Sought in School Closures Vote

Action comes one day after CTU files discrimination complaint with EEOC

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    The board is scheduled to vote Feb. 22 on a proposal to close five schools, phase out two others and "turnaround" 10 others by firing all the administrators and principals.

    Members of nine Local School Councils are asking a judge to prevent the Chicago Board of Education from taking its upcoming vote on which schools to close and which to "turnaround."

    The motion for an injunction was filed Thursday morning in the Circuit Court of Cook County, said Jitu Brown, a member of the Local School Council at Walter H. Dyett High School and an education organization for the Kenwood Oakwood Community Organization.

    The groups maintain the school board hasn't acted in good faith in helping under performing schools improve and is illegally moving schools toward privatization.

    The board is scheduled to vote Feb. 22 on a proposal to close five schools, phase out two others and "turnaround" 10 others by firing all the administrators and principals.

    "We believe that the evidence and facts that we will present to the court will show that the board is letting neighborhood schools, controlled by the LSCs, degrade as part of a process of privatizing these schools or turning them over to private corporations. That's wrong," said Attorney Thomas Geoghegan, who is representing the LSCs. "The Illinois School Code makes the Local School Council the principal mode of governance, and the kids should not be used as bargaining chips in promoting the goal of privatization."

    Specifically, the group alleges the school board didn't involve the LSCs in probation programs or provide the necessary funding that would have improved schools, that it didn't have "clear, system-wide criteria" for picking schools for turnaround and closure, and that the school board gives more money to private companies to turnaround schools than it does to the LSCs.

    The Chicago Teachers Union is assisting the LSCs with the action, and comes one day after the CTU itself filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that African American teachers are unfairly being targeted by the school board when it comes to layoffs.

    "[CPS] is illegally terminating and laying off African-American teachers who are highly qualified and excellent teachers," union attorney Robin Potter is quoted in the Chicago Tribune. "This is not a question. It is a systematic effort to rid the Chicago Public Schools of tenured teachers who are African-American.

    The Board of Education refutes that claim, and said the layoff process was in line with the collective bargaining agreement and "consistent with state law."

    "CPS does not target any group for layoffs, and it is impossible to target any group for any such action. Most teachers subject to layoffs find another teaching position within CPS. This complaint has no merit," said Becky Carroll, CPS' Chief Communications Officer.

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