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Judge denies injunction to stop closure of Trumbull Elementary School

Updated: September 15, 2013 6:36AM

A federal judge on Tuesday denied a request for an emergency injunction seeking to stop the closure of a North Side school.

Judge Gary Feinerman said granting the injunction would interfere with the Chicago Public Schools’ ability to decide how best to allocate resources under an already-strained budget.

Feinerman said an injunction would cause CPS to “reshuffle the deck” and would require money that already has been earmarked for other use. Trumbull Elementary, which caters to a large special-needs student body and is one of 49 schools CPS chose to shutter, is at 5200 N. Ashland in Andersonville. Students there will attend either McPherson Elementary, McCutcheon Elementary or Chappell Elementary, which are “receiving schools.”

The federal complaint against CPS and schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett was filed on behalf of three Trumbull students, two parents and a neighborhood organization.

Feinerman said the harm an injuntion would cause to CPS and the general public would “far outweigh” any harm to the plaintiffs and their community caused by closing the school.

“The most significant determinant is the quality of the receiving school and the continuity of services,” said Feinerman, who noted that the three receiving schools were doing an “exemplary job” in preparing for Trumbull students.

Feinerman said any possible harm Trumbull students may encounter in transferring schools is “not as great as feared by parents.”

James Morgan, who has two sons who attended Trumbull, disagrees.

“I really think that if you’re a parent in CPS who has a special-needs child, you’re in trouble,” Morgan said. “You better hang onto your hat and be in that new school every day to follow up and make sure they’re getting what they’re supposed to.”

Though the injunction request was rejected, the case may still go to trial. The Trumbull group also alleges that the manner in which schools were chosen for closure discriminated against schools with high populations of special-needs students. If they won, they could be awarded financial damages.

“We have a chance of success on the discrimination claim,” said Charles Petrof, attorney for the plaintiffs. “But it’s not enough to sway the judge to stop the closing.”

Two other federal lawsuits seeking to stop all 49 school closings are pending. In July, a suit seeking to stop 10 school closings was rejected in the Cook County Circuit Court.

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