Parents of children attending the National Teachers Academy (NTA) Elementary School in Chicago have filed a civil rights lawsuit to block the school district from closing the campus.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the lawsuit contends the closure “disproportionately burdens” the African-American students attending the school in the city's South Loop neighborhood
Earlier this year, the Chicago school board approved plans to phase out NTA and move its students to South Loop Elementary, which is slated to get a new annex to alleviate crowding. The district plans to open a high school in the NTA building.
The suit contends that the school system has never before closed a school that was top-rated or full. Its criteria, dating to 2011, permitted closures for poor performance or under-enrollment.
The lawsuit was filed by four NTA parents and the groups Concerned Parents of NTA and Chicago United for Equity. They’re asking the judge to halt the closure.
The district "is taking this unprecedented action not for any education-related purpose with respect to NTA," the suit argues. It "is instead bowing to pressure from wealthy interests in the South Loop, who have long targeted NTA’s building as a convenient, desirable location for a new high school."
The district has dedicated $3.5 million to helping NTA families make the transition to South Loop Elementary.
Illinois’ School Code requires the district to follow certain rules before closing a school, whether gradually or all at once; the lawsuit maintains the district did not abide by those rules. The effects on African-American kids violates the Illinois Civil Rights Act, the suit says.