By Joe Ruppel
Posted: Wednesday, June 19, 2013
A North Side community group has announced it will file a lawsuit against Chicago Public Schools to stop the closure of Trumbull Elementary School.
It will be the fourth lawsuit filed to stop the closure of Chicago schools after the Board of Education voted in May to shut down 50, the largest closing in U.S. history.
Friends of Trumbull, the group filing the lawsuit, will claim unlawful discrimination, citing Trumbull’s high number of special education students.
“CPS has failed to take into account the smaller class sizes required by special education students,” said Mark Miller, a Friends of Trumbull director.
The lawsuit was drafted with the help of the Legal Assistance Foundation, a nonprofit legal service, and will be filed within the week on behalf of Friends of Trumbull parents, and students. The group says it plans to release the details of the lawsuit, including the plaintiffs, later in the week.
The announcement was made outside Trumbull Tuesday morning, on the eve of the last day of school for 28 of the 50 closing schools. The announcement followed a special meeting of the Local School Council, where new data for the past academic year was presented that showed an increase in test scores in Trumbull’s special education classrooms.
During Tuesday's announcement, Miller referred to an often-cited February meeting of the Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force where Todd Babbitz, the chief transformation officer for CPS, said the city had not adequately considered the space needs or class size limits of special education students. Babbitz also called the formula applied to school closings a “blunt instrument."
The Trumbull lawsuit comes as the Illinois State Board of Education is considering ending limits on special education class sizes as a way to integrate students with disabilities into mainstream classrooms.
Randy Heite, a Friends of Trumbull director, said that the North Side school’s vertically articulated program already integrates disabled and non-disabled students.
“The kids intermingle and move up together because of the vertical articulation, which benefits the whole school,” Heite said.
The silver lining to the decision to close Trumbull has been the outpouring of community support for the school, Heite said.
“We have the best special education program in the city in a community ready to grow with the school and a school ready to grow with it,” Miller said.
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