Chicago Sun-Times

Open season for ire in school closing dispute

Lscmembers, ministers square off at boardhq


Anderson of Stagg Elementary called the ministers “a bunch of liars” and “phony preachers.” He questioned how many of them had received Chicago Public School contracts and said, “I’m here to fight for my kids. I am not paid by CPS.”

Commenting on the mayhem, the Rev. Ira Acree of the Greater St. John Bible Church told reporters: “See the results when you don’t educate people properly.”

The LSC suit contends that 17 school closings, phase-outs and turnaround­s up for a Feb. 22 school board vote are illegal, because CPS failed to provide legally required budgets and directions for improvemen­t to those schools’ LSCS while the schools were on academic probation.

In addition, the suit charged that proposed school shakeups violate the Illinois Civil Rights Act by disproport­ionately affecting African-american students who comprise 82 percent of the students impacted but only 45 percent of all CPS students.

Responded one CPS official by email Thursday: “We have complied with the school code and provided support to these low-performing schools over multiple years to boost improvemen­t. Unfortunat­ely, these schools have not improved or have gotten worse.’’

LSC members — all charged with hiring and firing principals and approving school budgets — expressed outrage Thursday that CPS Chief Administra­tive Officer Tim Cawley has stated that if there’s “a chance’’ that a school might close in “five or 10 years,’’ CPS will stop putting physical improvemen­ts into its building.

But once schools are approved for shakeups, CPS officials say, they can receive a windfall of new academic and physical improvemen­ts to accelerate their “fresh starts’’ — which in many cases have been contracted out to the Academy for Urban School Leadership, where Cawley once worked.

The practice in effect starves neighborho­od schools, controlled by LSCS, until they “degrade’’ to the point that they are eligible for shakeups and “privatizat­ion,’’ which then strips them of their LSCS, said Dyett High School LSC member Jitu Brown.

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