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Judge rules against CPS, lays ground for reform in school closures

A Cook County judge ruled in favor of parents and community activists who sought to freeze Chicago Public Schools’ plan to close their south side elementary school, National Teachers Academy (NTA), by granting their motion for a preliminary injunction this afternoon.

The judge also threw out CPS’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which alleges that CPS violated the Illinois Civil Rights Act and the Illinois School Code when it voted to close and convert NTA into a high school. With the injunction now granted, CPS is prohibited from moving forward with the closure while the lawsuit plays out in court.

“This is a huge victory for NTA and for other top-performing Black schools like ours,” said parent Elisabeth Greer, who is the named lead plaintiff and sits on the local school council for NTA.

“We are thankful that the court recognized the injustice in uprooting our kids and destroying a model educational institution for the sake of a nice building.”

In their lawsuit filed this past June by attorneys at Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, LAF (Legal Assistance Foundation), and Eimer Stahl, parents and community members argued that CPS justified its plan by arbitrarily relying on a discriminatory tie-breaker between NTA and South Loop Elementary—specifically, student attainment on a standardized test—that unfairly disadvantages low-income students and students of color.

NTA community members waged a two-year fight to keep their school open, speaking out at protests and public meetings with CPS officials. The plan to close NTA was the first proposed closure of a Level 1+ and efficiently utilized building in CPS history. Parents and community activists viewed it as part of a larger pattern of public divestment from segregated schools across the city.

In 2013, CPS’s school actions impacted nearly 12,000 students—88 percent of whom were Black. NTA welcomed displaced students during a 2012 closure in which over 96 percent of incoming students were Black. Despite the influx of these students, NTA rose from a Level 3 (CPS’s lowest rating) to a Level 1+ (CPS’s highest rating) in the following 5 years.

“Today, CPS is being held accountable for the way it discriminates in its school closures,” said attorney Candace Moore of Chicago Lawyers’ Committee.

“We hope this marks the beginning of a new direction towards greater racial equity and inclusion at CPS.”



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