"The Illinois Civil Rights Act is clear, you can not discriminate on the basis of race".
A Cook County judge will rule next week whether the cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools can move forward with a lawsuit accusing the state of discriminating against minority students in its education funding system. The courtroom had no seat empty, with parents of CPS students filling benches and waiting outside.
Judge Franklin Ulyses Valderrama said Wednesday that he would rule April 28 on whether the nation's third-largest school district deserves immediate financial action from the state. Claypool said this disparity discriminates against CPS, where 90 percent of students are of color, while the rest of the state districts are predominately white.
Claypool and those with CPS hope the judge will hear the case quickly.
CPS attorneys have sought a preliminary injunction barring the state from distributing any education funding in what they call a discriminatory manner.
But the state's lawyers argued the state can't be sued for discrimination, and they said the lawsuit could harm schools statewide which might lose state money as legislators work out a deal to fund CPS. "CPS would not be facing these terrible choices if Gov. Rauner took action to ensure our students received the same State funding that predominantly white school districts in the rest of the state receive". The veto left the district, which receives less state funding for pensions than other districts, scrambling to fill a budget hole.
But the state says Chicago gets more of its fair share of state money.
Vanessa Valentin's children are in special education programs at two CPS schools. The state has asked the judge to dismiss the case.
"Cuts have already impacted the classroom", one attorney said, noting CPS will eventually have to "shutter its doors". "The reason we are here is to prevent the school year from ending early".
CPS has said it must close schools 20 days early - on June 1 - unless the state comes up with more funding, or a court orders the state to do so.