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No class-action status in 2 lawsuits over school closings: judge

Updated: September 14, 2013 6:25AM



A federal judge has refused to grant class-action status to plaintiffs in two lawsuits attempting to prevent dozens of school closings in Chicago.

The lawsuits, filed on behalf of school parents and backed by the Chicago Teachers Union, claimed that closing 49 schools will disproportionally harm African-American students and students with disabilities.

In his 26-page opinion issued Friday, U.S. District Judge John Lee said the lawsuits failed to prove a “common injury” on a classwide basis.

A ruling by Lee on whether to grant a request for a preliminary injunction to stop the school closings is expected any day.

“I will not be making a comment before then,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney, Tom Geoghegan.

Although the lawsuits call for all 49 schools to remain open, Lee pointed out that one plaintiff, Denise Burns, thinks her daughter, who has Down syndrome, “will be fine” at her new school, McPherson Elementary, and is not opposed to some of the closings. Burns thinks her daughter’s school, Trumbull Elementary, should remain open.

Lee calls attention to an expert witness for the plaintiffs who testified that a “significant number” of students could benefit academically from the school closings.

The case also alleges that students with disabilities will be vulnerable while walking to school in unfamiliar areas, but Lee noted that the children of three plaintiffs will be bused by CPS.

In late July, a Cook County Circuit Court lawsuit attempting to stop the closure of 10 schools was rejected.

Email: mdudek@suntimes.com

Twitter: @mitchdudek



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