State removes school boards in North Chicago, East St. Louis districts
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois State Board of Education on Thursday ousted the elected school boards in the East St. Louis and North Chicago districts, citing nagging academic underperformance.
Under Illinois law, state education chief Christopher Koch will direct the affected districts' regional superintendents to replace the locally elected board members. Koch then will appoint a five-person independent panel to take their place.
"We hope to move forward with meaningful reform," State Board of Education Chairman Gery Chico said.
Last year, only 60 percent of East St. Louis students and 52 percent of North Chicago students met or exceeded standards under the federal No Child Left Behind law. The districts' failure to meet those standards for nine years triggered the state's intervention.
The East St. Louis district has more than 7,000 students, while the North Chicago system has nearly 4,000 students.
North Chicago Superintendent Milt Thompson said the process wouldn't adversely affect students.
"The most important thing here is that we develop an educational system that highly educates kids and creates a future for kids in this community," Thompson said. "That's what our focus has to be."
A message left with Garrett Hoerner, the general counsel for East St. Louis schools, was not immediately returned.
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