DETROIT, Jan. 12 (UPI) — A planned “sick-out,” in which hundreds of teachers called in sick, closed 60 Detroit schools Monday. The Detroit Public Schools identified 24 as closed Tuesday. At least four were closed last week.
“Teachers are staying out and we’re fighting back, and we are building a citywide strike,” former Detroit Federation of Teachers leader Steve Conn, organizer of the sick-out, said.
Conn was removed as union president for misconduct in August 2015. He is the current leader of the group Detroit Strikes to Win, which organized the sick-out.
Teacher grievances focus on overcrowded classrooms and a shortage of teachers caused, they say, by state and city budget cuts. They voiced their complaints at a rally Monday attended by state lawmakers and some members of the City Council and the Detroit Board of Education.
Darnell Earley, Detroit Public Schools’ emergency manager, said in a statement, “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.”
The state school superintendent, Brian Whiston, urged an end to the “systematic plans of not reporting to work,” adding, “I understand that teachers in Detroit Public Schools have real concerns about the financial, academic, and structural future of their schools, but for the sakes of their students, they need to be in the classrooms teaching.”