Chicago Public Schools’ campaign to take over two charter schools has been shot down in court.
CPS has been trying to close two charter schools run by Urban Prep Academies, claiming financial mismanagement and violations of Title IX.
Urban Prep charters are all-boy schools that primarily serve African American and low-income students. They boast a long history of high graduation and college acceptance rates.
But the Chicago Board of Education and Illinois State Board of Education both denied Urban Prep’s appeals for independence, although some members noted the need for such schools.
“As an African American mother and the mother of an African American son myself, I know there’s a need for a safe space that provides them with the chance to know your value and not how you are portrayed in the media,” said Donna Leak, a state board member. “We have to do better for African American young men.”
Leak abstained from voting on the appeal.
But Urban Prep wasn’t willing to give up, and so it filed a lawsuit.
Black community leaders even sent a letter to Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Brandon Johnson in May, urging them to defend the charters with “an unmatched record of educating Black male high school students … and then sending them to college.”
After a months-long battle, Judge Anna Loftus ruled on Saturday in favor of the charter schools, writing that “CPS’ non-renewal decision and subsequent actions constitute unauthorized school closures.”
“This is a victory not just for the Urban Prep community, but for anyone who has supported our cause and believes in Urban Prep’s successful education model tailored for black boys for nearly two decades,” said Troy Boyd, Urban Prep’s COO.
Its students are also celebrating their legal victory.
“I was worried. I thought I wouldn’t have my friends,” said Latrell Scott, Urban prep student. “I would have been nerve-racked.”
“We learn a lot,” added Joshua Smith. “We get to see black male role models, and we don’t often get to see that.”