A Cook County judge apparently disagrees with Chicago Public School’s continued requests for urgency in the second take of the district’s civil rights lawsuit against Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Judge Franklin U. Valderrama won’t hear arguments on the state’s request to have the lawsuit dismissed until at least August, well after the start of CPS’ new fiscal year and the June 30 due date for a $721 million teacher pension payment. That’s according to the schedule he set Friday at a hearing on CPS’ amended complaint that seeks a greater share of state funding.
“CPS continues to request the fastest decision possible because the state’s racial discrimination against Chicago students must be ended so that they get the funding they deserve,” district spokeswoman Emily Bittner said in an email. “We are gratified that the judge set the matter for status at the earliest date available.”
CPS CEO Forrest Claypool sued Rauner in February, alleging that Illinois’ school funding including teacher pension contributions discriminates against Chicago schoolchildren, who are on the whole less wealthy and less white than kids in the rest of the state. Claypool has included state contributions to teacher pensions as part of education funding when accusing Rauner of spending less on CPS students than their counterparts elsewhere in Illinois.
Government lawyers who represent Rauner have argued that CPS actually gets more per student when pension contributions are excluded — and the state says they should be since Chicago teachers rely on a pension fund that’s separate from the rest of the state.
CPS’ amended complaint, quietly filed after Valderrama dismissed the original lawsuit, is seeking “damages in an amount sufficient to compensate CPS for the State’s discriminatory funding.” Meanwhile the district plans to borrow hundreds of millions to afford both the pension payment as well as operations over the next several months.