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State moves to oust local school board

Illinois state superintendent Christopher Koch is taking the first steps toward removing local school board members in two of the state’s lowest performing districts.

The state currently helps run the public schools in North Chicago District 187 and East St. Louis District 189 because both districts have been failing for years.

On Wednesday afternoon, Koch told members of the Illinois State Board of Education that working with the local boards has been a struggle, and that he plans to take action to replace them with an independent authority.

Last month Koch overruled the local school board in North Chicago and ordered the district to allow a charter school to open there. The board had originally denied the charter proposal, with the board president saying he feared the charter school would divert needed resources from district schools.

If a school or district is failing for more than three years, Illinois law grants the state power to remove local board members and appoint an independent governing authority.

At a local board meeting in North Chicago Wednesday night, board member Sharon Epps said Koch's decision wouldn't stop her from advocating for schools.

"We’ve got some great things coming, but they need to take the harness off our neck and let us do it,” Epps said.


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