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Teachers union, fired teachers sue Chicago for racial discrimination

The Chicago Teachers Union is supporting three recently fired black teachers who are suing the city for racial discrimination.

Donald Garrett Jr., Robert Green and Vivionell Brown Jr. lost their jobs because of the Chicago Board of Education’s turnaround program, which replaces most of the administrative and teaching staff at low-performing schools.

These turnarounds tend to hit schools with above-average numbers of black faculty members, and they have contributed to a 10-percent reduction in black teachers in the past decade.

Along with the three teachers, the union filed suit against Chicago Public Schools on Wednesday. Even racially non-discriminatory employment policies can violate civil rights laws if they disproportionately affect specific races in practice.

Robin Potter, an attorney for CTU, said in a statement that the city’s policies run afoul of those laws by primarily impacting black faculty and staff.

“We’re now at a crossroads in Chicago. … The racial impact of the policies and practices of this Board of Education have devastated the African-American teaching force in that community,” she said in the statement.

The suit, which seeks class-action status, was filed on behalf of all black teachers who lost their jobs in June 2010 because of turnaround restructuring.

A spokesperson for Chicago Public Schools was unable to comment because the suit had not yet been served.

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