CPS appointments face court test

  • By Paul D. Bowker
  • Education reporter
  • March 24, 2008 @ 1:08 PM

The Chicago Public Schools' policy of choosing to have appointed, rather than elected, members in some local school councils will be challenged this week in Circuit Court.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Sophia Hall will hear arguments Thursday in a lawsuit against CPS brought by three local school councils and Rev. Charles Walker, an LSC member at Mose Vines.

The school councils at Mose Vines Academy, 730 N. Pulaski, School of Technology, 7529 S. Constance, and School of Entrepreneurship, 7627 S. Constance, will not be up for election in April, as most other LSCs are.

That's because the Board of Education voted last year to allow CPS chief Arne Duncan to appoint council members at alternative schools, small schools and military academies.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim the new policy is in violation of the Illinois School Reform Act of 1987, and are asking the court for an emergency motion for a preliminary injunction. The court could rule that the CPS would have to hold elections for the three LSCs bringing the suit.

"The law says you have an LSC," says Julie Woestehoff, executive director of the advocacy group Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE).

A CPS spokesman said the agency had no comment on the lawsuit.

The Circuit Court hearing will occur three days after an extended deadline for LSC nominees passes. LSC elections will be held in April.

In most cases, LSCs consist of six parents and two community representatives, all elected, plus the school principal and two teachers appointed by the Board of Education.

At high schools, a student representative also sits on the LSC. At small and alternative schools, the council also includes two advocate members.

Woestehoff says at least 15 school LSCs are appointed, rather than elected.

Paul Bowker, a Chicago-area journalist with 25 years of experience, covers Chicago Public Schools for the Daily News.