Detroit teacher says sick-outs are in response to 'deplorable' conditions at DPS schools

Mushrooms, black mold found at elementary schools

DETROIT – Mushrooms have been found growing out of a wall at Vernor Elementary School in Detroit.

Teachers told Local 4 they've seen mushrooms growing at other Detroit Public Schools (DPS). The mushrooms were scraped off at those schools while classes continued as normal.

"It is important for you to note that this is not a current situation at Vernor Elementary. This issue was completely addressed months ago and that condition no longer exists within the school," DPS said in a statement.

Moreover, black mold was found growing at Spain Elementary.

There's nothing normal in DPS schools these days, said teachers. The discovery at Vernor comes as two-thirds of DPS schools were closed Monday due to a teacher sick-out.

"The sick-out is a response to some of the deplorable conditions that the students find themselves in," said Tracy Russell, who is a DPS graduate and now a teacher in the district.

Russell also has has three kids attending DPS schools.

"It's a turning point for Detroit -- the stigma on urban education that has to end. To live in a district where you constantly hear, 'this isn't right, they're performing poorly,' and I know it's not true," he said.

As teachers call for public hearings to address the problems they can't help but see a parallel to Flint, where unaddressed problems by the state, which has been in charge of DPS for 7 years, is leading to possible dangerous health conditions for children.

"They were poisoned to save a dime. So, you know, it just begs the question ... we can do better. The sick-out says 'enough is enough,'" said Russell.

Russell said his parents are not upset by the sick-outs. He said they understand teachers are doing it to ensure the safety of their kids.

Meanwhile, Mayor Mike Duggan's office said Monday night that the mayor will be visiting several DPS schools this week to investigate complaints.


About the Author:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.