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Fight Over Chicago School Closures Goes to Court This Week

Opponents of Chicago's decision to close 49 elementary schools will be in federal court starting today to argue that the large-scale closings violate the civil rights of students with special needs and African-American students.

The 405,000-student Chicago system is the subject of two federal lawsuits that were filed just before the city's appointed board of education voted in the spring to shutter dozens of schools as a cost-saving measure. According to the Chicago Tribune, hearings in both of the lawsuits begin today and are expected to last through the end of the week, as school district officials and parents are called to testify.

Lawyers for the Chicago school system are seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed. According to the Tribune, U.S. District Judge John Lee already ruled last month that the city of Chicago be removed as a defendant in the lawsuits. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has authority over the city's schools.

Chicago's teachers' union filed both lawsuits on behalf of parents to stop, or at least stall, the district's wave of closures.

The new school year opens in just over a month and the district has been forging ahead with its transition plans, including hiring hundreds of city youth to help pack up shuttered schools.

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