DETROIT – At least 50 Detroit schools were closed Monday because teachers were absent as part of a protest which began last week over pay and general turmoil in the district.
The district posted the schools on its Facebook page.
Detroit schools are run by Emergency Manager Darnell Earley. He acknowledges the concerns of teachers but calls the sick days "misguided."
In the wake of the sick out, the Detroit Federation of Teachers called for public hearings into the health and safety hazards students and teachers face in Detroit schools.
"The deplorable conditions in our schools have created a serious environmental and educational crisis that is being ignored," said DFT Interim President Ivy Bailey. "We refuse to stand by while teachers, school support staff and students are exposed to conditions that one might expect in a Third World country, not the United States of America.”
Former union president Steve Conn calls it a "continuation of the rolling strikes." School officials warned families Sunday that "ongoing sick-outs" by teachers could keep kids at home.
Many teachers in Detroit are also dissatisfied with their pay and the district's poor finances.
“I wouldn’t consider a classroom of 45 kids conducive to teaching and learning," Western International High School parent Jaime Diaz-Herrara said, in support of the sick out, in a DFT news release. "I wouldn’t say that a classroom with black mold creeping up the walls is conductive to teaching and learning. I wouldn’t say that roaches and rats scampering through hallways are conducive to teaching and learning. It’s disgusting, unsafe, unhealthy and not the way we should be educating our kids in Detroit or anywhere else.”
However, Earley, who was appointed as the district's emergency manager by Gov. Rick Snyder in January 2015, says he believes the sick outs will hinder his administrations efforts to right the district's financial ship.
"It’s clear that teachers are feeling an overwhelming sense of frustration over the challenges that they, and all DPS employees, face as they do their jobs each day," Earley said. "We understand and share their frustration. However, given the reality of the District’s financial distress, it is becoming clearer every day that the only way that we are going to be able to address these serious issues in any way is through an investment in DPS by the Michigan Legislature. Unfortunately, obtaining that support becomes more challenging with each closure of a school due to a teacher sick-out.”
Snyder's plan to resolve the district's ongoing financial troubles by spinning off a new district entity has stalled in the legislature.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan also called on teachers to end the sick-out, but said his administration would review the DFT's claims about health and safety.
"Tomorrow, I will be visiting a number of those schools along with the heads of the Detroit Health Department and the Detroit Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department," Duggan said. "Based on what we find, the City of Detroit will take whatever enforcement action is necessary to make sure all Detroit Public Schools are compliant with all health and building codes."
Schools closed Monday include:
- Burton International
- Clark Preparatory
- Cody - APL
- Cody - DIT
- Cody - Medicine and Community Health
- Coleman Young
- Communication and Media Arts
- DCP at Northwestern
- Detroit International Academy
- Detroit School of the Arts
- Detroit Lions
- Douglass Prep Academy
- Fisher Lower
- Fisher Upper
- Greenfield Union
- Jerry L White
- John R King
- Marshall, Thurgood
- Moses Field
- Osborn College Prep
- Palmer Park
- Randolph Center
- West Side Academy