The Chicago Board of Education has reached a $9.25 million settlement in a discrimination case over a series of layoffs that took place in 2012-14.
In those years, the CBE enacted “turnaround” procedures as a matter of policy at 18 schools which were not meeting goals measured by standardized testing and attendance. Those procedures included laying off “underperforming” teachers and occasionally replacing them. Laid-off educators were told to reapply to Chicago Public Schools, but rehiring too was racially disproportionate.
The lawsuits filed by the Chicago Teachers Union alleged that the layoffs and terminations were ‘racially disproportionate.’ Black teachers were more likely to have been fired than white teachers, even with similar classroom results. The lawsuit represented over 400 Chicago-area teachers.
“Black educators have shared heartbreaking stories of derailed careers, financial hardship and emotional trauma in the wake of these illegitimate layoffs,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said in a statement. “Those turnarounds were also devastating to students who lost access to trusted adults, school communities that were dismembered by these mass firings, and Black neighborhoods long starved of civic resources only to be robbed of the dedicated educators for generations of children.
“Our students and the educators who serve them deserve so much more than what CPS is willing to provide,” he continued. “Yet these kinds of struggles remind us that we can move mountains in our work for the schools our students deserve.”
A little more than $5 million of the settlement will endow a fund to benefit the 413 educators who were inappropriately laid off. The rest goes to court costs, including the attorneys for the union, teachers, and paraprofessionals.
The Department of Education has said that the installment is an acknowledgment that the layoffs had a disproportionate impact, but not a disproportionate intent.
“It just felt like a moment to reaffirm CPS’ and the board’s commitment to hiring and retaining Black educators in service of achieving the five-year vision’s goal of having a workforce of principals and teachers and paraprofessionals who are diverse, inclusive and culturally responsive to and reflective of our students,” said board member Elizabeth Todd-Breland in the final hearing.