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CPS Teachers Who Lost Jobs File Discrimination Suit

Teachers, union say "turnaround" action discriminates against African Americans

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Several African American teachers who lost their jobs under a "turnaround" program have filed suit against the Board of Education alleging the actions discriminated against African American teachesr and staff.

    Donald L. Garrett Jr., Robert Green and Vivionell Brown Jr. blame CPS for a steady decline in black teachers from about 40 percent in 2000 to just under 30 percent in 2010, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Wednesday.

    Since most black teachers are employed in South and West Side schools, "turning around" schools in those neighborhoods by firing all the staff and bringing in an entirely new team discriminates against African Americans, they allege in their lawsuit.

    All three men lost their jobs when their schools were turned around for weak academic performance; all three say they had satisfactory or better evaluations.

    The trio, in conjunction with the Chicago Teachers Union, filed the class action lawsuit against the Board of Education and Schools Chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett Wednesday on behalf of all African American teachers who lost their jobs in June 2012 to 10 school turnarounds.

    CTU attorney Robin Potter said they’re seeking to get their jobs back, lost pay, damages, an independent monitor to oversee the turnaround process in the future, and a moratorium on turnarounds until a monitor’s in place.

    Though African American teachers make up about 28 percent of CPS tenured teachers, they constitute 51 percent of the tenured teachers fired in the turnarounds authorized in February 2012, according to the lawsuit filed in federal court.

    In an email, a CPS spokeswoman declined to comment.

    "We have not seen the lawsuit and cannot provide comment until we have reviewed the allegations," said spokeswoman Marielle Sainvilus.

    The turnaround plan was unanimously approved by the Board of Education last February.