Fed judge tosses Pat Quinn’s lawsuit over elected school board

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Former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has acknowledged he needs at least 100,000 signatures to survive an almost certain petition challenge by Emanuel’s well-oiled, well-financed machine. | AP file photo

A federal judge has quickly tossed a lawsuit by former Gov. Pat Quinn and a handful of active Chicago Public Schools families targeting mayoral control of the city’s school board.

The group filed two lawsuits against the city’s board of education in October — one in state court and the other in federal — aiming to replace the mayor’s appointees with elected school board members. But U.S. District Judge Elaine Bucklo dismissed the federal lawsuit earlier this week.

“Plaintiffs have no fundamental right to vote in school board elections as a matter of law,” Bucklo wrote. “And the fact that residents of other Illinois jurisdictions have the privilege of voting in such elections in their districts does not confer such a right upon residents of Chicago.”

Chicago Public Schools is the only district of the state’s 859 to have a board chosen by the mayor rather than voters. And the 1995 act that gave the mayor control over the schools took away any oversight previously conducted by elected members of the City Council or Local School Councils.

Quinn and the other plaintiffs — many of them parents or grandparents of CPS students — argued the arrangement violates the First and 14th amendments by depriving residents of the right to vote for board members. They also claimed it amounts to taxation without representation and a scheme to deprive people of the right to vote on the basis of race.

The lawsuit filed in state court is pending.

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