Schoolhouse Beat

2 lawsuits say Chicago school closing proposal violates students' rights

With the support of the Chicago Teachers Union, opponents of the Chicago school system's plan to close more than 50 schools have filed two lawsuits that seek to block the district from carrying out the closings. The union says in a news release that 88 percent of the children in the schools targeted for closing are African-American, but African-American children make up only 42 percent of the students in the city school system. The first suit contends that the school system's closing proposal violates Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The complaints asserts that the closing plan "does not permit a timely and orderly process either for the proper review and revision of the individualized education programs for...children in special education programs or for the extra services and counseling such children require to make the difficult transition to unfamiliar schools and unfamiliar teachers and students." The second suit contends that the school district is violating Section 5 of the Illinois Civil Rights Act. "By repeatedly selecting African American students to bear the costs of the closings, the defendants have unlawfully used 'criteria and methods of administration' that have the 'effect' of subjecting...African American children...to discrimination because of race," the suit argues.

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