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Judge Denies Class-Action Status In School Closing Lawsuits

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(Credit: Thinkstock)

(Credit: Thinkstock)

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CHICAGO (AP) — CHICAGO (AP) — The majority of the nearly 50 Chicago elementary schools slated for closure will likely proceed after a federal judge denied class-action status to the two main civil lawsuits at the center of a dispute pitting parents and education officials.

Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s third largest school district, said Monday it welcomed the ruling by US. District Judge John Lee, which was posted late on Friday.

His decision leaves open the possibility that he could still order injunctions stopping the closure of half a dozen schools named in the two lawsuits. Those orders could come within the next several days.

Lee all but ruled out extending any injunction to the about 50 schools the district voted in May to close, concluding the issues facing the schools were too dissimilar to treat simultaneously.

In a brief written statement released Monday, schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said she was “pleased with the court’s ruling.” Plaintiffs’ attorney Sean Morales Doyle declined comment other than to say the judge hasn’t made a final ruling on the injunction.

Parents of black students say the closures will force their children to negotiate unfamiliar street gang territory, endangering their lives. Parents of kids with disabilities say new schools are ill-prepared to receive their children and so the closures put them at risk, too.

The district has denied claims by some parents that race played a role, insisting that a looming $1 billion deficit and the underuse of many buildings — not race — drove decisions about which schools to shutter.

Last month, both sides presented four days of testimony.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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