Debate Over DC School Closures Heads To Court

5:24 AM, May 10, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- A federal discrimination lawsuit was filed challenging the decision to close 15 DC public schools. Shannon Smith spearheaded the suit that not only affects her two children but 2,700 kids throughout the system.

The suit argues the closures will disproportionately impact low income and minority students. Some numbers that seem to support the plaintiff's claims: 96.6 percent of students affected by the plan are from low-income families, compared with the 75.4 percent of students systemwide. Almost 28 percent receive special education services, compared with 14.2 percent across DCPS.

Empower DC says the planned closures violate the U.S. Constitution as well as city and federal laws.

Eight-year-old Breyah was clearly in distress outside the federal courthouse on Friday. Her mother tells us she doesn't cope well with strangers and that's exactly why they were at the rally to stop 15 school closures. Breyah has a disability and would be forced to go to a new school, says her mother. Her mother told us the changed would be frightening for Breyah.

Lawyers for the city say closing the schools will improve education for all students.  DCPS says the schools on the chopping block have low student enrollment and closing them will save millions in building maintenance.

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