CPS Will Be Open Through End of Year: Emanuel

A Cook County judge has ruled against Chicago Public Schools in a suit the school district filed against the state of Illinois alleging discrimination

Chicago Public Schools will remain open through the end of the school year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Friday, shortly after a judge ruled against the school district in its suit against the state claiming discrimination in its funding methods.

The mayor said CPS students will remain in school for the durating of the year "because that's where they belong."

"The kids of Woodlawn and Englewood count just like the kids of Winnetka and Evanston count," Emanuel said during a press conference. 

A Cook County judge has ruled against Chicago Public Schools in a suit the school district filed against the state of Illinois alleging discrimination--but the judge has given CPS 28 days to amend and refile its argument.

The lawsuit was tossed because CPS did not connect the allegations of discrimination with the programs and criteria of the state, according to Cook County Circuit Court Judge Franklin Ulyses Valderrama's ruling.

CPS CEO Forrest Claypool thanked Valderrama's for his ruling ruling during the city's press conference.

Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis released a statement shortly after the ruling.

“With this distraction behind us, we can move forward on working with the General Assembly to fix our state's school funding formula. Governor Rauner's bipartisan commission has recommended changes that will create an equitable school funding formula to better meet the needs of each student within every school district in our state," the statement reads. "Instead of pointing fingers and blaming decades of fiscal mismanagement on a governor who has been in office for two years, CPS should be urging lawmakers to pass a balanced budget that includes changes to our education system that will better meet the needs of every student.”

In a statement following the judge's ruling Friday, the Chicago Teachers Union called the judge's decision "a lesson in predictable failure."

"Instead of a Hail Mary lawsuit built for PR purposes, the mayor and his handpicked Board of Education and CPS CEO should have immediately guaranteed school for the month of June through sensible use of tax increment financing and the corporate head tax," the union said. "Yet they chose to use our students and their families as pawns in a prolonged fight with the governor.

“There are fewer than 30 school days and counting until the mayor and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool’s June 1 shutdown, and this failed legal challenge has cost taxpayers both time and money," the statement continues. "Instead of waiting for action from a governor who has shown no desire to invest in the lives of nearly 400,000 Chicago public school students, and highlighting his racist policies instead of addressing their own, city leaders need to meet this challenge, stop playing games and use the resources available to them to fully fund our schools.”

Vanessa Valentin’s children are in special education programs at two CPS schools.

“We need to work with CPS to figure out how to keep our kids safe and in school,” Valentin said.

She says she is worried about the possibility that those schools may close early because of a shortage of funds.

“As a parent, I will volunteer to keep my school open with other parents to keep kids safe,” she said.

That is why she was at the Daley Center earlier this month, taking part in the lawsuit to force the state to change its funding formula, one they say discriminates against Chicago students based on their race and ethnicity.

“The state did not, in any way, deny that the state of Illinois did not have the right to continue the practice of discriminating against Chicago Public School students,” Said Leon Finney of the Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church.

Without more than $250 million in state funding it was counting on, CPS says, it could be forced to end classes this year on June 1 instead of the 20.

“There are thousands and thousands of parents who are very concerned,” says Pastor Lou Ramos. “What is going to happen to our children?”

But the state said Chicago gets more of its fair share of state money.

Purvis says the funding formula is broken.

“As to your question, is it discriminatory against the children in Chicago?” she asked. “No.”

But Chicago disagrees--and Gov. Bruce Rauner must do something to fix it, Mayor Rahm Emanuel says.

“Minority children, poor children across the state of Illinois, because of the funding formula, are treated as second class citizens,” Emanuel said.

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