Official: Race not driving Chicago school closures

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 18, 2013 at 10:24 pm •  Published: July 18, 2013
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A complex "utilization equation" was employed in the process, and the district found there were some 500,000 available classroom seats for 400,000 students, leaving 100,000 seats unused, Anderson said.

Enrollment has fallen over the years with a corresponding fall in population in African-American areas, which is why so many of the schools that ended up on the closure list were in predominantly black neighborhoods, Anderson said.

One of the lawsuits, however, argues the consequences have a racial element, saying "white children ... have been almost universally insulated from the negative educational consequences of school closings."

Also Thursday, the head of security for CPS, Jadine Chou, told the court the district is implementing measures to ensure street gangs don't pose a threat to students attending new schools. Opponents of the closures say those students may end up stepping into the line of fire of warring gangs as they walk through unfamiliar neighborhoods.

The security upgrades in the wake of the closings include a commitment from Chicago police to dispatch extra patrols around schools taking in the displaced students, Chou said. More parents also will be recruited to help monitor walking routes to and from the schools, alerting police if they see trouble, Chou said.

Still, under cross-examination, Chou denied the upgrades suggested the district accepted the argument that the closures will put students entering new schools at greater risk of violence.

"It doesn't necessarily mean danger. ... We are taking steps to prevent potential risks," she said, emphasizing the word 'potential.'

Testimony in the injunction hearing was expected to conclude Friday. Judge Lee would then take at least several days to go through the evidence and announce his ruling.

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