Chicago Board Approves $9.25 Million Settlement for Black Educators, Paraprofessionals, and Staffers Fired While Working in Turnaround Schools

Hundreds of Black teachers and paraprofessionals will benefit from a $9.25 million settlement approved by the Chicago Board of Education on Wednesday, Dec. 15.

The board, while not admitting wrongdoing, agreed to give the Chicago Teachers Union the multi-million dollar settlement after being sued by them for the “racially disproportionate” layoffs and terminations of more than 400 workers over a three-year period.

The CTU filed a federal lawsuit against the Chicago Public Schools and Board of Education for laying off or firing African-American teachers and school staffers in “turnaround schools” in predominantly Black communities. After years of litigation, it seems that the union has achieved a breakthrough.

CTU President Jesse Sharkey issued a statement on the victory, sharing that the settlement was in response to “two race discrimination cases that are pending in federal court.” Those cases are titled Chicago Teachers Union et al. v. The Board of Education of the City of Chicago (Case Nos. 12-cv-10311 and 15-cv-8149).

His remarks continued, “These cases, which date back a decade, were our union’s response to the ‘turnaround’ model of school management and the systemic assault on experienced Black educators, and were one of the first acts taken in my tenure in CTU leadership alongside my sister, President Emerita Karen GJ Lewis, NBCT.”

Sharkey revealed that legally the body is “constrained” on what can be publicly said about the terms as both parties are waiting on a judge to “enter a Preliminary Approval Order approving the settlement in January. However, he did note that “this specific settlement will compensate 413 educators who were displaced by turnarounds in the years 2012, 2013 and 2014.”

While the court will establish an allocation formula to determine how much will go to individuals impacted by the turnabout layoffs and terminations, Sharkey believes that “no member among the 413 educators covered by this settlement, including those subsequently rehired in CPS, will get less than $5,000 if they submit a claim form.”

WTTW reports that the board will not be responsible for the whole amount. Some $1.7 million of the settlement will come from the Board of Education, and its insurance will kick in the remainder.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that $4 million of the settlement, almost half, will go to lawyers and court fees. The outlet estimated that the leftover $5.25 million if divided by the plaintiffs evenly, would allow each teacher or paraprofessional with a little over $12,700. Their numbers are not based on the approved formula.

The board, notes The Sun-Times, has not admitted to the charge of race discrimination. 

Dr. Elizabeth Todd-Breland, a Black woman appointed to the Chicago Board of Education by Mayor Lori Lightfoot in 2019, shared her thoughts on the settlement. She believed that this agreement was evidence of the instabilities turnaround policies created for “both in Black schools and communities” and “the board’s commitment to hiring and retaining Black educators in service.”


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