CTU sues over CPS school closings
May 15, 2013 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Attorneys for the Chicago Teachers Union filed two federal lawsuits on Wednesday to stop, or at least delay, the closing of 53 public elementary schools.
One of the lawsuits invokes the Americans with Disabilities Act, saying 5,200 CPS special education students will be harmed by switching schools in the absence of individual education and safety plans.
"It is illegal to conduct a process as the board is doing that is going to cause more harm to children with disabilities than non-disabled kids... And believe me, children with disabilities are really at risk with this," Thomas Geoghan, attorney, said.
The second said the plan to close schools unfairly targets African-American children
"Since 2001 there's always been excuses for finding some way to make African American children bear all the costs of these closings," Geoghan said. "That has to stop."
Alumni at the DuSable Leadership Academy, which is part of Bronzeville's Betty Shabazz Charter School, said CPS is ignoring their special needs.
"We know they are brilliant young people and they can move forward they need extra help and extra resources," Grace Dawson said.
CPS will vote on the closings next week. A CPS statement released Wednesday said, "Too many children today are trapped in underutilized, under-resourced schools cheating them of the investments they need to succeed in the classroom. Instead of offering up solutions, CTU continues to protect a status quo that doesn't put our children first. Consolidating underutilized schools is necessary to give children the resources they need to access a quality, 21st century education."
The lawsuits claim there isn't enough time to plan, especially for safety, to avoid a tragedy in September. On that issue, the mayor issued a directive to the Chicago Fire Department to make its presence felt along school routes during the first weeks of school next year.
local, ravi baichwal
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