Judge rejects Chicago school lawsuit over Illinois funding inequities

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By Karen Pierog
| CHICAGO

An Illinois judge dealt a blow to Chicago’s cash-strapped public school system on Friday by dismissing its lawsuit that argued the state’s school-funding formula discriminates against minority students.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Franklin Valderrama gave the nation’s third-largest school system until May 26 to amend its civil-rights lawsuit.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool said he planned to meet with attorneys and financial experts for the district and the city to determine the next move.

“We will continue the fight for racial justice for Chicago’s school children,” Claypool told reporters.

Valderrama said the district, which had sought a temporary injunction on the statewide distribution of school-aid dollars, failed to identify alleged discriminatory practices under Illinois’ Civil Rights Act.

CPS sued Illinois officials on Feb. 14, claiming the state’s method of education funding discriminates against its largely black and Hispanic student body in violation of the state’s Civil Rights Act.

Unlike all other Illinois public school districts, which participate in a teachers’ retirement system heavily subsidized by the state, CPS maintains its own pension fund for educators.

Escalating pension payments have led to drained reserves, debt dependency, and junk bond ratings for CPS, which is controlled by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

(Reporting by Karen Pierog; Writing by Dave McKinney; Editing by Matthew Lewis)