Former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is one of seven individuals who have filed state and federal lawsuits in an effort to win an elected school board in Chicago.
The lawsuits against the Chicago Board of Education were announced Wednesday.
The suits, organized by the Grassroots Education Movement, allege that denial of an elected Chicago school board violates taxpayers’ rights.
“Both at the federal level and the state level, we are saying that the voters of Chicago are being treated as second-class citizens,” Quinn told reporters Wednesday. “What we want to do is, we are going to go to court and ask a judge, both a federal and a state court judge, to order that there be an election right here in Chicago to let the people speak.”
Chicago has the only non-elected school board in Illinois, and the state legislature — which approved the 1995 law that gave Chicago’s mayor full authority over the school district and board appointments — must ultimately change the rules.
“After twenty years of experience with mayoral appointment, there is no substantial basis to believe that an appointed Chicago Board of Education has done a better job of managing the public schools than an elected one could or would have done,” the lawsuit filed in state court adds.
Other plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Chicagoans who went on a 34-day hunger strike last year to save Dyett High School from closing.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool responded to the lawsuits by taking a swipe at Quinn over education funding.
“As governor, he cut CPS funding every single year he was in office, to the tune of nearly $200 million, and completely ignored the state’s legal duty to help fund Chicago teacher pensions,” Claypool said in a statement. “As governor, Pat Quinn was dead last in funding the education of children living in poverty, but he was first in raising taxes.”