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Initial rulings in Chicago schools' funding lawsuit due April 28

21 April 2017

After a Wednesday hearing, a Cook County judge will decide next week whether a Chicago Public Schools lawsuit alleging discriminatory funding by the state will move forward.

"The state did not, in any way, deny that the state of IL did not have the right to continue the practice of discriminating against Chicago Public School students", Said Leon Finney of the Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church. The courtroom had no seat empty, with parents of CPS students filling benches and waiting outside.

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"Minority children, poor children across the state of IL, because of the funding formula, are treated as second class citizens", Emanuel said. The rest of the state is predominantly white. "That's a $500 million annual gap", CPS CEO Forrest Claypool told reporters after Wednesday's court hearing. The district's officials have said they will have to close 20 days early unless the state agrees to give the district more funding or a court orders the state to do so. He also will rule on whether the district's lawsuit should be allowed to proceed.

In December, Rauner vetoed $215 million in state funding CPS had counted on in its fiscal year 2017 budget, saying that money was tied to sweeping pension reforms at the state level that haven't been reached.

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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 is suing IL and Gov. Bruce Rauner, alleging discriminatory funding. He said the state has even conceded the discrimination contended in the suit.

CPS, which faces deep financial problems, argues the existing formula violates Illinois' Civil Rights Act because the state does not underwrite costs for city teacher pension payments as it does for school systems elsewhere in the state. He said the judge has the power to end the discriminatory practice, but the state would determine how it would fix the disparity.

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