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Tipsheet

Chicago Parents File Lawsuit Against Teachers Union, Demand Teachers Return for In-Person Learning

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

A group of Chicago parents sued the Chicago Teachers Union after the union voted earlier this week to delay a return to classrooms due to COVID concerns.

Chicago Public Schools and the union have yet to reach an agreement on whether in-person learning should return amid the recent uptick in coronavirus cases caused by the highly infectious omicron variant. Friday marks the third straight day classes in the district were canceled.

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The lawsuit, filed Thursday night by attorneys at the Liberty Justice Center, alleges that the school closures constitute an "illegal strike" and violate the union's own contract.

"CTU’s resolution calling members to not show up for work in-person is a strike regardless of what CTU calls it and violates both the collective bargaining agreement with CPS and Illinois law," Jeffrey Schwab, senior attorney at the Liberty Justice Center, said in a press release. "CTU cannot unilaterally decide what actions should be taken to keep public schools safe, completely silencing parents’ input about what is best for the health, safety, and well-being of their children."

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot earlier this week mirrored the language of the lawsuit, calling the potential move to remote learning an "illegal work stoppage" prior to the union voting not to return to classrooms for work.

More than 90 percent of CPS staff are fully vaccinated, and all teachers and students are required to wear masks indoors throughout the school day. Teachers and students are also regularly tested for the coronavirus. However, teachers are still calling for additional testing and other safety measures.

"Throughout this entire pandemic, our kids have paid a tremendous price for adults' mistakes and miscalculations, and now the teachers’ union has hastily and recklessly put them on their political roller coaster again," Laurel Golden, lead plaintiff in the lawsuit and a CPS parent, said in the release. "The science is clear, and so is the desire of parents: Our kids need and deserve to be in school. This illegal strike must be ended immediately, and we must get kids back into the classroom."

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Nearly 3,000 parents had also signed an online petition by Friday afternoon demanding that teachers return to the classroom for in-person learning, according to WTTW.

Additionally, CPS has filed a labor complaint, alleging that the CTU illegally ordered its members not to show up for work, but to instead work remotely until Jan. 18 or when CPS meets their demands for health and safety protocols.

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