Judge Denies Motion to Halt Chicago School Closures

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A Cook County Judge on Wednesday denied a motion to stop Chicago Public Schools from closing 10 of the 49 elementary schools the Board of education voted to shut down.

The Chicago Teachers Union filed a lawsuit in May, following the board's vote, that claimed CPS ignored recommendations of independent hearing officers who opposed the closings of those 10 schools on the grounds the district did not follow state law or its own guidelines for shutting schools.

While the judge ruled against CTU on the motion, he did not dismiss the union’s lawsuit.

Circuit Judge Thomas R. Allen rejected the union’s argument that recommendations made by independent hearing officers were binding. Allen said the legislation was somewhat “fuzzy” on that point, but that he believed lawmakers hadn’t barred the school board from contradicting hearing officers.

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“If they wanted to put a gun to the head of the board and take their power away,” Allen said in court, “all they had to do was add another sentence.”

After court, CTU attorney Robert E. Bloch said he was disappointed in Allen’s decision and considering his next steps.

“The Board of Education is becoming a speeding train heading toward a cliff,” Bloch said outside the courtroom, “and today was an opportunity to put a brake on that train.”

A lawyer for the Board of Education declined to comment after the hearing.

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