Chicago’s teachers’ union last week filed a pair of civil rights lawsuits in federal court on behalf of parents to stop, or at least stall, the district’s plans to shutter 53 elementary schools at the end of this school year.
The lawsuits come one week before the board of education is scheduled for a final vote on closing the schools that are mostly located in neighborhoods on the city’s south and west sides, which the suits claim will have negative impacts on African-American students and those enrolled in special education programs.
The union’s lawsuits come after a panel of retired federal and state judges urged the 405,000-student district to halt the closings of 13 schools. The district hired the judges to conduct public hearings on the closure plan and make recommendations.
Chicago’s closure plan is considered the largest to be undertaken by a district in a single year.
Meanwhile, in the District of Columbia, a federal judge last week rejected the claims of plaintiffs that the planned closures of 15 schools would violate the rights of black, Latino, and special education students.
A version of this article appeared in the May 22, 2013 edition of Education Week as Chicago Union Suits Challenge Closures