Chicago Public Schools has agreed to pay $9.25 million to settle decade-long lawsuits from the Chicago Teacher Union. United States District Judge Sara Ellis approved the settlement on Wednesday, Fox News reported.
The teachers union sued the public school system over a "turnaround" policy from 2012 to 2014 that resulted in educator layoffs. The policy specifically targeted schools in the district that had been placed on probation because of underperforming test scores and attendance.
The suits were filed by the Chicago Teachers Union and three teachers in 2012 and 2015, reported the Chicago Defender.
The lawsuits alleged that the "turnaround" policy disproportionately affected black teachers and para-professionals. The policy consisted of several rounds of layoffs that impacted 18 schools in the district. Nearly all of the teachers fired from their positions were employed at schools on Chicago's South and West sides.
Chicago Public Schools directed the teachers to apply for another position within the district, but many were not re-hired.
Those eligible to receive payments from the settlement include black educators previously employed by Chicago Public Schools that were fired due to the policy. Attorneys for the teachers union said that former employees that qualify for the settlement funds have until Friday to submit a claim.
"All African American persons employed by the Board of Education of the City of Chicago as a teacher or para-professional staff, as defined in the labor agreement between the Chicago Teachers Union and the Board of Education, in any school or attendance center subjected to reconstitution, or 'turnaround,' in the 2012, 2013 and/or 2014 calendar years," the lawsuit read.
A spokesperson for the attorneys told Fox News that approximately $5.25 million of the settlement would be divided among 414 current and former teachers union members. The attorneys for the union will receive $4 million in fees and court costs.
A lead attorney for Chicago Teacher Union, Patrick Cowlin, said, "This has been a challenging but necessary court battle and part of the CTU's determination to ensure all students and staff have the schools Chicago deserves. The named plaintiffs and other CTU members have shown great courage throughout this 10-year fight for justice."
"These teachers and para-professionals dedicated their lives to educating the community's children. They deserve our support, and they deserve to work in an environment free of bias," Cowlin added.
Fox News reported that Chicago Public School could not be immediately reached for comment.