Judge tells Chicago to let students transfer

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A federal judge told Chicago Public Schools on Monday to arrange for the immediate transfer of students who want to leave a South Side high school after an honor student’s brutal beating death.

A federal judge told Chicago Public Schools on Monday to arrange for the immediate transfer of students who want to leave a South Side high school after an honor student’s brutal beating death.

U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman’s ruling came in a lawsuit filed last week against the district. He issued the order and continued the case to give officials time to transfer the students, said attorney Christopher Cooper, who filed the lawsuit.

Cooper represents 11 students who say they don’t feel safe at Christian Fenger Academy High School and that school officials have prevented them from leaving, despite a promise in mid-October that they would have access to other schools. Along with transfers for students who want to leave, the lawsuit wants a judge to order the district to make Fenger safer. It also seeks $100,000 in damages.

Fenger honor student Derrion Albert, 16, was beaten to death on Sept. 24 during a sprawling fight after school that was caught by a cell phone video camera. Four teens have been charged in his death.

The video shows a group of people striking Albert with boards and kicking him as he lay on a sidewalk.

Albert, who was a sophomore at Fenger, has been described by police as an innocent bystander caught up in the fight.

The violence was part of a long-running dispute between students from the neighborhood near Fenger and those from the Altgeld Gardens public housing project about five miles away, students and parents said.

Cooper’s clients are from Altgeld Gardens, and they claim the violence at Fenger has continued since Albert’s death. Most have refused to return to school, and those who have been back said they were attacked.

Cooper said the students need to go to other schools to prevent more violence. “If my clients are forced to go back to Fenger High School, there may be another Derrion Albert tragedy,” he added.

Messages left for a district spokeswoman and lawyer weren’t immediately returned. AP

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