The Education’s Department’s Office of Civil Rights is investigating complaints filed on behalf of African American parents in New Orleans, Chicago and Newark.
The complaints were filed by a national coalition of education justice groups called the Journey for Justice Alliance. Parents in the three major school districts expressed concern that their children were being disproportionately affected by the increased closing of neighborhood schools that have been replaced by charter schools. In Chicago alone, nearly 160 neighborhood schools have been closed, consolidated or “turned around” within the last 15 years. In New Orleans, the entire school district has been turned into an all-charter school zone, and in Newark, parents have complained about the districts “One Newark” plan that calls for relocation and consolidation of at least one-quarter of the area’s public schools.
This week, town hall meetings were held in the three cities to bring attention to the situation, while the Education Department pledges to continue its investigation.
Last year, the Education Department announced that it was awarding $2.8 million towards charter school developments, making it a bit ironic that it has agreed to investigate these cases that seem to present a war against charter schools in their districts. Only time will tell how serious the department is with this investigation and if the cries of local parents are really being heard.