News Column

School Closings Discriminatory, Coalition Tells US Education Dept.

June 22, 2012

Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah

A coalition of students and community members from several cities filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Education on Thursday, alleging that policies to close underperforming schools discriminate against African-American and Hispanic students.

Groups in Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Atlanta, Washington and Baltimore filed Title VI complaints with the Department of Education, asking for the federal agency to investigate school closing policies and staff overhauls of underperforming schools known as "turnarounds." One of the groups, the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, failed twice this spring to get a Cook County judge to blockChicago Public Schools' plans to close or revamp 17 low-achieving schools.

Jitu Brown, education organizer with KOCO, said officials with the federal agency discouraged him from filing a complaint Thursday, saying they were not likely to get a better result.

"They said they generally tend to use the same criteria as the courts," Brown said.

The Chicago complaint focuses solely on Dyett High School, where Brown has been a longtime local school council member. CPS announced this year that the Washington Park school would be closed gradually over three years.

The complaints call for the Department of Education to investigate school closings in each of the cities and demand a national moratorium on shutting down failing schools without reform that includes community input.



Source: (c) 2012 the Chicago Tribune


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