Chicago teachers sue district for alleged discrimination against black teachers

Teacher Jillian Connolly helps her daughter Mary study math problems while picketing on September 10, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois.


Scott Olson

The Chicago Teachers Union and three teachers who lost their jobs this year have sued the school district, saying the city's campaign to reform or close underperforming public schools discriminates against black teachers.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal court in Chicago, and the plaintiffs are seeking class-action status, reported the Associated Press. The teachers — Donald Garrett Jr., Robert Green and Vivonell Brown Jr. — said the firing of all staff at "turnaround" schools has led to a steady decline in black teachers in the school district.

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Chicago schools spokeswoman Marielle Sainvilus said that district officials can't comment on the lawsuit, but that the district "has an obligation to expand high-quality school options ... in every neighborhood."

According to Reuters, the federal lawsuit alleges that more than half of the tenured teachers fired in the most recent round of school closings and turnarounds were black. It also claims that African-Americans make up less than 30 percent of tenured teaching staff in the district and 35 percent of tenured teachers in the failing schools.

The suit in US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois seeks an immediate moratorium on any additional school closings in the city.

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