The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and a group of Chicago parents are asking a circuit court to block the school board from shutting down ten of the city's schools. In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday, the plaintiffs claim that Chicago Public Schools (CPS) violated its own guidelines by disregarding the recommendations of independent hearing officers who objected to the closures.
The state of Illinois "requires the school board to establish guidelines for the closing of schools," said CTU attorney Robert Bloch. "When it developed a proposed plan for closing schools, it obligated them to hold public hearings presided over by independent hearing officers."
But when those hearing officers ruled that ten of the closures did not meet CPS's own guidelines, alleges Block, CPS just ignored them. The guidelines allegedly being violated include a failure to adequately protect student safety and a failure to account for the needs of special needs students.
Last week, the Chicago Board of Education voted to shut 50 of the city's public schools, the largest round of school closures to ever hit a single American city. If successful, the lawsuit announced on Wednesday would prevent only 10 of those schools from being closed, though Chicago parents have also filed two other lawsuits arguing that the entire closure process violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Illinois Civil Rights Act.
"We have a shared responsibility to do everything we can to ensure a bright future for every child, but union leadership remains committed to a status quo that is failing too many children trapped in underutilized, under-resourced schools," said CPS spokesperson Becky Carroll in a statement responding to the newest lawsuit. "Now is the time for every adult from every community to come together and support our children to ensure they have a safe and smooth transition to their new, higher-performing, welcoming schools with the resources needed to succeed and thrive in the classroom."