Parents and voters, including former Gov. Quinn, file suit demanding an elected Chicago school board
On October 5, 2016, Despres, Schwartz & Geoghegan, Ltd. filed two lawsuits – one in federal court and one in state court – on behalf of a group of Chicago voters alleging that the Illinois School Code violates their constitutional rights by denying them the right to elect their School Board.
Every other school district in the State of Illinois has an elected school board, while Chicago’s is appointed exclusively by Chicago’s mayor without even the advice and consent of the City Council.
The suits include a number of claims, including that the denial of Chicagoans’ right to vote violates plaintiffs’ rights to equal protection and equal elections and is a racially discriminatory policy prohibited by Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The plaintiffs also challenge the fact that the School Board levies billions of dollars in property taxes although it is not a legislative, representative body.
The plaintiffs include former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and a number of parents and grandparents of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students, three of whom participated in a hunger strike in 2015 to demand that the appointed School Board reopen the last remaining open-enrollment neighborhood high school in the Bronzeville neighborhood. A number of them are also current or former Local School Council members.
Members and representatives from a number of community organizations came out to support the suit at the press conference announcing the filing, including the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), the Lugenia Burns Hope Center, Northside Action for Justice, Raise Your Hand, and Teachers for Social Justice. These organizations and other supportive community members have set up a website to raise funds to support the suit.
The complaints are available below.