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Judge dismisses DPS suit against DFT and its president

Suit moves forward against Steve Conn, Nicole Conaway

DETROIT –  

A judge has dismissed a portion the Detroit Public Schools district's sick-outs lawsuit against the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) union and its interim president, Ivy Bailey. 

Judge Cynthia Diane Stephens ruled Bailey's statements on strikes were not advocating a teacher work stoppage. 

"We may have to do a district-wide strike or work action," Bailey said in a robo-call to announce a meeting. She called it an opinion -- protected free speech. The district said it was a call to action. However, Judge Stephens rules it was insufficient to show irreparable harm and dismissed that part of the case.

Bailey called the case retaliatory. 

"I look forward to moving forward with the new manager and resolving these outstanding issues," she said. 

The district released the following statement:

"The District is disappointed in the Judge's decision to dismiss the DFT. However, we look forward to being able to prove our allegations against the perpetrators of the wildcat strikes that have taken 12 days of instruction away from the more than 46,000 students of Detroit Public Schools."

Lawsuit against Conn, Conaway moves forward

The rest of the lawsuit stands. It was filed in an attempt to stop the sick-outs. 

The remaining defendants include ousted DFT president Steve Conn and teacher Nicole Conaway. The district accuses them of organizing and executing teacher absences. Most claims against Conn and Conaway will stand, Stephens ruled Thursday. 

Conaway and Conn have been outspoken supporters of the sick-outs. The district said their advocacy and participation violent their contract with the district. 

The case will moved forward with a hearing on March 7. Conn and Conaway welcome it. 

"We are going to put (Gov. Rick) Snyder's attacks on this district and his Jim Crow policies on trial," said Conn. 

While poor health and safety conditions in schools were repeatedly invoked as justification for the sick-outs, Conn and Conaway disagree and called for a teacher uprising.

"This was never about school conditions. It's about the unlawful destruction of Detroit schools and the undemocratic policies of the Snyder administration that led to those conditions," said Conaway. 

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