Our Pledge To You


National Teachers Academy community goes to court to save school

Elisabeth Greer at a press conference outside the Daley Center.

Elisabeth Greer, whose children attend NTA, speaks at a press conference outside the Daley Center. | Rachel Frazin/For the Sun-Times

Elisabeth Greer relies on the low-cost after-school childcare provided at the National Teachers Academy, where her kindergarten and third-grade children are students.

But that service could become less affordable to her if NTA is converted to a high school and its students are moved to South Loop Elementary School, where the aftercare is more expensive.

“If they take away my aftercare and I have to be there to pick up my children at 3:30, all of the goodwill that I have with my work will just evaporate,” said Greer, who teaches at Harold Washington College.

NTA parents and Chicago United for Equity were in court at the Daley Center Wednesday, as attorneys argued for an injunction to stop a Chicago Public Schools plan to convert NTA into a high school for communities near the South Loop. A judge took the matter under advisement, saying he would rule in December.

After years as a low-rated school, NTA achieved a 1+ rating last fall, according to the suit. That’s the highest rating a school in Chicago can receive. Typically, school closures have been limited to poor-performing schools, and the planned closure of their high-performing school has galvanized some NTA parents. This is the first proposed closing of a top-rated CPS school.

Attorney Ashley Fretthold argued in court that the decision to close NTA discriminated against its large number of low-income and African-American students.

Chicago Board of Education attorney Michael Warner argued that the change could benefit African-American students by integrating the schools.

He also said he believes the court doesn’t have jurisdiction over CPS actions.

The hearing, on both the injunction and a motion to dismiss filed by CPS, will be decided by Judge Franklin Valderrama by 3 p.m. on Dec. 3. The judge said that will give families time to consider his ruling when they choose schools for the next academic year. Applications for the 2019-2020 school year close on Dec. 14, according to the CPS website.

If he rules against both motions, the case will proceed through the courts, but CPS also can continue its plan in the meantime.