East St. Louis schools
12:47 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

State, East St. Louis School Board Settle Lawsuit Over Attempted Takeover

Illinois state education officials and members of the East St. Louis school board have settled a nearly year-old lawsuit sparked by the state board's attempt to take over the struggling district.  

The consent decree approved today by St. Clair County judge Stephen Rice essentially reinstates an oversight system that was terminated by the state board vote last year. Almost all members of the elected board sued, saying the decision was motivated by race. Today's agreement ends that suit.

The decree will be in place for four years and can be extended for another four if certain criteria, like accreditation, aren't met. It allows East St. Louis school board members to have input on curriculum, hiring, budgetary, and other matters, but final decisions will be up to  district superintendent Arthur Culver. State superintendent Christopher Koch may step in if the board does not follow Culver's lead.

The decree also requires an outside audit of the district and the establishment of an improvement plan that deals with academics, governance, and finances. The state board agrees not to attempt to remove the district board while the decree is in effect, unless officials can prove the elected board is working against the improvement plan.

Lonzo Greenwood, the president of the elected board, declined to comment. Other members of the board could not immediately be reached. Beth Shepperd, an assistant superintendent, said in a statement that district staff would support both the state  and district boards in complying with the consent decree.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann