15 Washington D.C. schools are scheduled to close over the next two years, but not if a group of activists have it their way. The group of activists protesting the closure alleges that the schools chosen to close are those that are traditionally attended by minority and low-income students which is not only in violation of civil rights laws but doesn't insure any actual improvement in educational outcomes for any students.

Chancellor Kaya Henderson of D.C. schools announced the closure last year after a series of town hall meetings prompted action. The reasoning for the closures is apparently due to the under-utilized space in certain buildings as well as the low enrollment in the chosen schools. If the district has its way thirteen schools will close by the end of the 2013 school year and two more next.

Parents from five of the schools in D.C. have now filed a lawsuit claiming that close to 3,000 students would be negatively affected if the closure were to occur, many of them African-American and/or low-income. If their schools were to close, students would be forced to travel further distances and experience instability in the educational process. Attorney Johnny Barnes, representing the parents says "The District cannot demonstrate a 'substantial legitimate justification' for the disparate impact because it cannot show that its drastic plan to close schools is an educationally necessary action that relates to meeting its educational goals." Plaintiffs also claim that the school closure is in violation of the Human Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Barnes will request the court temporarily stop the closures at the upcoming hearing on April 4th.

Despite the plaintiffs’ claims, school officials deny the allegations that the closures were aimed at minority students and instead assert that the closures will actually benefit students because they will be transferred to schools with more resources and staff members. Spokeswoman Melisa Salmanowitz of DCPS stated "Our decision to consolidate schools was based on extensive, thoughtful community engagement as well as input from experts, community members, parents and advocates. Our consolidation efforts will lead to greater equity across the city, including already an increase in the number of art, music and foreign language program offerings at our schools."  She also said "We are confident that our decisions are will ultimately make DCPS stronger and better supportive of our students, our teachers and school leaders and our families. In regards to the lawsuit, we have yet to be served and have not seen the lawsuit, but we vigorously deny any allegations of discrimination."

Though the school stands by its decision, Barnes still contends that the court could interpret DCPS’s decision as targeting minorities, in violation of the law. This is the first lawsuit related to school closures filed in 2013, however other cities such as Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit have announced similar school closures, so perhaps there is time for similar litigation to come to light.