NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ A coalition of groups opposed to charter schools says it is filing federal civil rights complaints claiming discrimination by officials running school systems in New Orleans, Chicago and Newark, New Jersey.
Copies of the complaints were released Tuesday by the Journey for Justice Alliance. They say black students in the three cities suffer because of the closure of traditional public schools or the conversion of them into schools run by independent organizations under charters approved by state or local education officials.
The complaints say African-American communities have suffered from the closure of neighborhood public schools.
A spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Education declined comment. Chicago Public Schools and Louisiana state education officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Remedies sought in the complaints include moratoriums on further closures or conversions to charter schools.
The complaint against New Jersey officials calls for a halt to the “One Newark Plan,” which includes expanding charter schools as well as controversial plans for downsizing the workforce in some areas and establishing districtwide frameworks for accountability and teacher and student evaluations.
“Not only will African-American families lose access to their neighborhood schools, but they will also lose access to trusted and qualified teachers and administrators, generational community knowledge, a well-rounded curriculum, a caring and responsive code of conduct, access to parent facilities, ease of access and safety going to and from school, and peace of mind for both parents and children,” the complaint says.
In New Orleans, where the state took over and later chartered most public schools after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the complaint says poorly performing schools with higher percentages of white students are more likely to be closed than schools with lower white enrollment. It also says white students are disproportionately enrolled at higher performing schools.
Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood and Dyett High School are a major focus of the complaint against the Chicago Public School system.
“CPS is creating a school desert in Bronzeville, as it will soon become a community with little to no neighborhood schools. Once Dyett High School is phased out, there will be no traditional public high schools in the entire Bronzeville community,” the complaint said.