BELLEVILLE, Ill. (CN) – A state judge halted, at least temporarily, a state takeover of the East St. Louis School Board, after school district attorneys claimed the decision to remove the board was unconstitutional and may have been racially motivated.
St. Clair County Judge Stephen Rice granted a temporary restraining order Monday. The decision blocks the removal of the East St. Louis School Board until the matter is resolved in court.
Illinois had never ousted a school board until its action against East St. Louis and two North Chicago districts in June.
Attorneys for the East St. Louis board claimed that of the more than 120 Illinois districts on academic watch status for more than 3 years, all three school boards that the state Board of Education voted to remove were from predominantly African-American districts.
Illinois Assistant Attorney General Terrance Corrigan called that argument a “reckless allegation.”
Corrigan said the decision to oust the school boards was based on academic results, and concern for the children in those districts.
Despite the ruling, the East St. Louis school district still operates under the supervision of a state-imposed financial oversight panel.