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Chicago charter school in union battle

Chicago charter school in union battle

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CHICAGO • A Chicago charter school that received millions of dollars in public money is now arguing it is a private institution that does not have to follow an Illinois law giving public school workers the right to unionize.

Chicago Math and Science Academy has received $23 million in public funds since opening in 2004, and more than 80 percent of the school's annual budget comes from the Chicago Public Schools, records show. The rest of its funding comes from state and federal grants and private fundraising.

The school has appealed a decision by the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board, who said it must allow its workers to unionize. The full board is expected to rule soon.

The school's attorney has argued public funding alone is not the mark of a public institution. A more important factor, he said, is that charter schools are established by private citizens and government has little, if any, sway over their operation.

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