The Crusader Newspaper Group

Chicago Public School sues to keep schools closed

Chicago Crusader staff report

Two weeks after a stunning decision to keep several South Side charter school open, Chicago Public Schools filed three lawsuits against the Illinois State Charter School Commission (ISCSC) to keep the schools closed.

In each lawsuit, school officials say the commission overstepped its authority when it reversed CPS’s decision to close Amandla Charter School, Betty Shabazz’s Barbara Sizemore Campus and Bronzeville Lighthouse Charter. On November 18, the Chicago Board of Education voted to close the three schools because of student’s low test scores and poor academic performance. Another school, Larry Hawkins CICS on the Far South Side, was also ordered closed.

CPS ordered all four schools closed, two weeks after they were placed on academic probation. All three schools filed an appeal, arguing they were not given sufficient time to help students improve their academic performance.

On March 7, the ISCSC agreed in an unprecedented decision to keep all three schools open, saying CPS violated state charter rules by not giving at least a year’s notice before closing the schools. While acknowledging the school’s academic problems, the commission stunned teachers and parents with a rare, unanimous 6-0 vote that reversed CPS’s decision and angered CPS Chief Forrest Claypool, who called the commission’s decision “ill-informed and destructive.”

In its lawsuit against the ISCSC, CPS argues the ISCSC “does not grant the commission the power to charter and operate schools that the commission itself agrees do not provide an adequate education to students.”

Hosanna Mahaley-Jones, the executive director of the ISCSC, did not return an email seeking a comment on the lawsuits.

The ISCSC was formed in 2011 under former Governor Pat Quinn. The commission has strong authority over decisions made by local school districts and privately-run charters. In news reports, Claypool said he supports state legislation that would remove the commission’s ability to reverse a school district’s decision to deny or revoke charter school agreements.


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