This week, the Chicago School Board, with failed mayor Rahm Emanuel’s support, announced a lawsuit against the Illinois School Board, citing “separate and unequal systems of funding for public education in Illinois” as the cause.
Chicago Public School are using the lawsuit as a “last-ditch effort” to fix Chicago’s public schools, which are going through a funding crisis. The Chicago Tribune states that there has been “a war of words between Emanuel’s school system and Rauner’s administration over education funding.”
The lawsuit was filed in the Cook County Chancery Division by the Chicago Board of Education on behalf of five African-American and Hispanic Families and says: “The state treats CPS’s schoolchildren, who are predominantly African American and Hispanic, as second-class children, relegated to the back of the state’s education funding school bus,”
The Chicago Tribune further reports:
The lawsuit asks that the state be found in violation of the Illinois Civil Rights Act for maintaining what CPS calls “separate and unequal” systems for funding school districts and pension obligations. It notes that most CPS students are minorities and poor, while public school students in the rest of the state are “predominantly white.”
CPS CEO Forrest Claypool, backed during a Tuesday news conference by a panel of African-American and Latino clergy and district families, said the district hoped a judge would respond to the request for a rapid intervention by ruling in “months, not years,” and before additional cuts are needed.
“The clock is ticking for our schools and our kids, and for CPS,” he said.
Beth Purvis, Rauner’s education secretary, said in a statement that the state is still reviewing the lawsuit.
“But it is important to remember that the bipartisan, bicameral school funding commission just issued its report, which recommends an equitable school funding formula that defines adequacy according to the needs of students within each school district,” Purvis said.
She was referring to a recently released report by the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission that called for an increase of at least $3.5 billion in school money over the next decade. The report said more should be spent on districts with a higher population of poor students but did not provide a detailed formula for state officials to use.
“The governor remains focused on moving forward these recommendations and hopes that CPS will be a partner in that endeavor,” Purvis said in her statement.