D.C. sued over school closures

A District of Columbia community group has sued the city in an attempt to stop the planned closure of 15 public schools, closures the group says will disproportionately affect minority, special education and low-income students.

Empower DC filed suit Friday, saying closing the schools violates the U.S. Constitution and city and federal laws.

School officials announced the closures in January. Officials said at the time that the schools have low enrollment and that moving students to existing schools would save $19.5 million, $11 million of which would be reinvested in the school system.

The first 13 schools are set to close at the end of the current academic year. Two more schools will close at the end of 2014. The closures affect approximately 2,700 students according to the lawsuit.

With school out Friday for good, this group of students was free to join others protesting outside the courthouse. The kids from Ferebee Hope School in far Southeast held up pictures of First Lady Michelle Obama's visit to their school in 2009.

Shannon Smith showed a neighborhood partly empty for renovation. She said the school won't be under enrolled when the residents return.

"There's no reason to close Ferebee Hope," she says.

And with neighbors kids and her grandchildren, they made lots of noise at the rally Friday.

"I think it's terrible. we got this stuff in our school finally working everybody having fun and they want to take it all away from us,” says Ferebee Hope student Michael Cheeks.

The school system says it's about economics, with so many students have left for charter schools that DCPS must consolidate.

The chancellor's office issued a statement: “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. In regards to the lawsuit ... we vigorously deny any allegations of discrimination.”

A judge is granting the group a hearing April 4th.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.