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Tag: U46 trial

Weekly Wrap-Up: Catching up after a full week in the Northwoods…

I spent most of the weekend catching up on sleep, and most of the workday Monday catching up on email after I spent the first week of June with my nonprofit, Hope for the First Nations, on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota. I plan to write more about that trip Monday on the blog.

Meantime, here are all the articles I wrote that week and this week for my day job at Sun-Times Media:

Photo credit: File photo for Sun-Times Media.

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Expert explains ‘favorable’ impression of U46 gifted programming (Sun-Times Media)

CHICAGO — An education expert Wednesday praised a key Elgin School District U46 program for gifted minority students as the trial continued in the federal discrimination lawsuit against the district.

“As I understand from your testimony, you are very favorably impressed with the SET SWAS (Spanish English Transition School Within A School) program,” Judge Robert W. Gettleman said.

That’s true, replied Carolyn Callahan, a professor at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education.

In fact, Callahan said, she couldn’t think of anything she specifically would change about the program for gifted Spanish-speaking students in U46.

“I would say it’s a program that serves a very important function in helping students transition,” she said. “I’d like to see more students served by it.”

That program is at the center of the claim the second-largest school district in Illinois did not offer students who were black and Hispanic access to its gifted and academy programs.

The lawsuit against U46 also claims the district discriminated against minority students in its 2004 school boundary plan by placing them in overcrowded schools, and that it did not offer appropriate help to English Language Learner students.

For the rest of the story, read Expert explains ‘favorable’ impression of U46 gifted programming (Sun-Times Media).

U46 officials: No discussion about segregation in ’04 boundary changes (Sun-Times Media)

CHICAGO — It was “the smoothest opening of the school year in every way,” according to Jim Feuerborn, then-assistant superintendent of management services in School District U46.

The buses had picked up and dropped off students on time, Feuerborn said. The books and lunches all were where they needed to be.

And that came at the start of the 2004-05 school year, as major boundary changes took effect in the Elgin school district and it recovered from a financial crisis discovered in summer 2002.

Feuerborn, who has been a consultant to the district since retiring in 2005, and several former U46 administrators testified Tuesday about the circumstances around those boundary changes in the racial discrimination trial against the state’s second-largest school district.

Lawsuit’s claims

That lawsuit alleges U46 discriminated against black and Hispanic students in its 2004 school boundary plan by placing them in overcrowded schools. It also alleges the district did not offer students who were black and Hispanic access to its gifted and academy programs or appropriate help to English Language Learner (ELL) students.

The two-year boundary change process was “very public” and did not include discussions about segregation or isolating students, according to John Prince, former chief financial officer and chief operating officer of U46.

For the rest of the story, read U46 officials: No discussion about segregation in ’04 boundary changes (Sun-Times Media).

Weekly Wrap-Up: Hallelujah! The end of the U46 trial is in sight!

I’m trying something new this month, wrapping up all my short stories for The Courier-News in one post at the end of the week so as not to overwhelm anybody’s feed reader. This past week was a good illustration why that could be a good idea. What do you think of this format?

In addition to cover stories on prom and transportation funding, I wrote…

Photo credit: Jeff Cagle for Sun-Times Media.

Mom of 4 plaintiffs testifies at U46 discrimination trial (Sun-Times Media)

CHICAGO — Tracy McFadden would have liked to have known about School District U46’s high school academy programs, she said. That way, she could have helped her oldest daughter “further her education so she could make better decisions if she wanted to go to college.”

But, McFadden said, she didn’t learn about the academies until Danielle was a freshman in high school. Danielle since has graduated from the Elgin school district.

She also would have liked to have known about U46’s elementary school gifted program for her daughter Dinah, now 13, she said.

That could have meant “a better education for her,” she said.

McFadden and four of her children — Daniel, Danielle, Deonte and Dinah — are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, McFadden v. U46. The Elgin mom of six finally testified in that case Wednesday in the bench trial being decided by Judge Robert Gettleman in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago.

That lawsuit alleges U46 did not offer students who were black and Hispanic access to its gifted and academy programs. It also alleges the state’s second-largest school district discriminated against black and Hispanic students in its 2004 school boundary plan by placing them in overcrowded schools, and it did not offer appropriate help to ELL (English Language Learner) students.

It originally was filed by nine Hispanic students and their parents in February 2005 and was amended to include the McFaddens in May of that year. The trial began in March 2011.

For the rest of the story, read Mom of 4 plaintiffs testifies at U46 discrimination trial (Sun-Times Media).