Illinois School District U-46 Discriminated Against Latino Students in Gifted Program

CHICAGO, IL- Today, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois held a hearing in McFadden v. Board of Education for Illinois School District U-46, to discuss the remedy phase after ruling in favor of the Plaintiffs in their discrimination lawsuit. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), together with co-counsel, Futterman & Howard and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, represented the Plaintiffs in the trial of this education equity case, challenging a Chicago suburban school district’s discriminatory policies and practices toward Latino and African American students.

"Latino students have the right to receive an education permitting them to reach their full potential," stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. "This includes equal access to enrichment programs, such as the gifted program, as the court held in this case."

On July 11, 2013, Illinois federal District Court Judge Robert Gettleman issued a decision holding that the school district discriminated against Latino students in the district’s gifted program until at least 2009. Specifically, the Court found the district discriminated against Latino students who were formerly part of the district’s bilingual program by segregating them into a separate gifted program.

“By finding that the school district deprived Latino gifted students of the same educational opportunity as their white counterparts, by segregating them into a separate gifted program, this Court revitalized the important Brown v. Board of Education principle that ‘separate [is]….inherently unequal,’” stated Alonzo Rivas, MALDEF’s Midwest Regional Counsel.

The Court also found that the procedures used by the district to identify gifted students resulted in a “serious disparate impact” on the Latino student population. Despite the over 40 percent of Latino students in the school district, only 2 percent of the gifted program participants were Latino in most of the school years reviewed by the Court.

Though the Court found the school district’s gifted program discriminatory, its ruling extended only through the end of the discovery phase of the case in 2009. In order for the Court to determine whether the program continues to discriminate against not only Latino, but all minority students, it must account for the current status of the gifted program before it can issue a proper remedy.

Click here to see a copy of the opinion and order.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

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