Updated: December 24, 2013 6:05AM
The Chicago Sun-Times filed suit Friday against the United Neighborhood Organization and its charter-school network, seeking records the newspaper says fall under Illinois’ open records law that the organizations have refused to release.
UNO has maintained that only records held by the UNO Charter School Network Inc. must be made public under the law.
The lawsuit says UNO and its charter-school network are essentially a single entity.
“UNO has just received the complaint and is reviewing it,” the organization said in a statement Friday.
UNO is the largest charter-school operator in Illinois. Its charter network contracts with the Chicago Public Schools to operate publicly funded, privately run charter schools in the city. The CPS funding accounts for most of the charter-school network’s budget.
The Sun-Times is asking a Cook County judge to force UNO to turn over documents the newspaper sought in February, September and November, to affirm that they are public records and to impose a fine.
After UNO rejected the the newspaper’s request in February for contract documents, the Sun-Times appealed to the llinois attorney general’s office, which issued an opinion that said UNO and its network “are inextricably intertwined” and found that the organizations violated the records law.
The Quinn administration has twice suspended state school-construction funding to UNO as a result of the newspaper’s reporting on its finances, most recently in October after a report that the federal Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating UNO for possible securities fraud.
Contributing: Art Golab