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updated: 12/18/2012 6:37 PM

U-46 discrimination lawsuit nearing an end

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A federal bias lawsuit against Elgin Area School District U-46 is moving into its final stages.

Attorneys representing the McFadden family, the plaintiffs, filed a post-trial memorandum that basically summarizes their arguments and lays out the key points of their case, which dates back to 2005.

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The lawsuit accuses the school district of discriminating against Latino and black students when it redrew school boundaries before the 2004-2005 school year. It also objects to how the gifted and English Language Learner programs were run.

The district's attorneys will have about six weeks to prepare their response, said Patricia Whitten, an attorney and spokeswoman for the district on trial matters. She said the plaintiffs then will have one more shot at a rebuttal to close the written arguments in late February.

The judge could decide to make a ruling based on the briefs or ask attorneys for oral arguments.

"Then it's just a matter of him making a decision," Whitten said. "There's no real time limit on that."

Stewart Weltman, attorney for the law firm Futterman Howard and Weltman, said the plaintiffs will not comment on the pending lawsuit. The 85-page brief outlines their argument.

In it, the plaintiffs argue the district used discriminatory screening practices that excluded black and Latino students from gifted programs. Attorneys also accuse the district of violating Illinois State Board of Education regulations based on class size and curriculum for English Language Learner students.

The brief also claims the district assigned Latino and black students to overcrowded schools, leaving predominantly white schools with extra space.

Whitten said the brief includes inaccuracies and misstatements of the evidence that take things out of context, resulting in inflammatory accusations.

"We really feel the evidence at trial after their 8 years having this case pending shows that the board and the administration really has the best interests of all the students in the district as its overriding principle here in everything they did," Whitten said.

The district's response is due Jan. 30 but Whitten said attorneys may ask for an extension.

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