Lawsuit Filed to Block School Closures


Closing and merging schools in the DistrictBy C.N. Staff Writer

In January of this year, Kaya Henderson, Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public School System (DCPS) announced plans to close 20 schools over the next 2 years, citing budget pressure, low enrollment and high competition from the growing number of public charter schools in the city.

The Districts estimates a net savings of $8.5 million due to the closures. Further, Henderson argues that under-enrolled schools are expensive and inefficient to operate and that the money saved can be spent on improving classroom instruction and academic programs.  However, education activists along with community group Empower DC, filed a lawsuit in March arguing about 15 closures that aversely affect minority students, students with disabilities and students from low-income families.  The lawsuit argues that the closures violate D.C. and federal laws preventing discrimination.

Five parents of children who currently attend DCPS schools, some of which have children with disabilities, filed the federal lawsuit.   According to data provided by Mary Levy, a former school researcher for the D.C. council, 93.7 percent of those 3,000 students are black, and only two — 0.1 percent — is white, court documents show.



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