Chicago Teachers Union heads to court over school closure plan

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CHICAGO – The Chicago Teachers Union has repeatedly taken to the streets to try to stop the closure of 54 public schools.

judge3Now the union is taking its cause to the courtroom.

According to the Huffington Post, the CTU “filed two federal lawsuits Wednesday aimed at bringing the pending closures to a halt.”

The union lawsuits argue that since disabled and minority students will be harmed the most by the potential closings, the district’s plan should be stopped in its tracks.

According to the CTU, the district’s plan to shutter dozens of schools and relocate the displaced students by August is too soon. The truncated time frame would not leave Chicago Public Schools officials with adequate time to ensure that the disabled students are adequately accommodated at their new school buildings.

“There is no way that in a few short months the Board can responsibly do the counseling and provide the support services these children with disabilities need,” said CTU Financial Secretary Kristine Mayle in a prepared statement.

The union’s other lawsuit alleges that schools with predominately minority student populations were “single[d]out” for closure, reports the Huffington Post.

CTU President Karen Lewis described the school closures as “an assault … on our students and our communities.”

CPS officials say the district is facing a $1 billion deficit and simply can’t afford to maintain a slew of half-filled schools throughout the city.

They should also remind union leaders that last fall’s teachers’ strike forced the district into spending millions on teacher raises it really couldn’t afford. Those payouts consumed resources that might have kept at least some of the schools from closing.

So in a very real sense, CTU members contributed to the hardships they say disabled and minority students will suffer under the school closures.

“The mayoral-appointed school board will vote on the closures at their May 22 meeting,” the Huffington Post reports. “If approved, CPS’s plan will be the largest-ever restructuring of a major urban school district.”

By Ben Velderman at EAGnews.org

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