sickout in detroit

‘Sickout’ In Detroit: More Than 50 Schools Close As Hundreds of Teachers Skip Work

The Detroit “sickout” has caused more than 50 schools to close in the Michigan city. Teacher upset about their pay, and other issues, staged a mass walkout for today. The Detroit Public School District sent an alert to parents yesterday to warn them that schools might be forced to close today. Parents who had to dig into their pockets for a day of babysitting as teachers took a paid day off work might not be very supportive of the organized labor sickout.

Detroit teachers have been protesting pay rates and work conditions for more than one week, CBS reports. The sickout prompted local labor leader Steve Conn to keep the “rolling strikes” going. School officials also stated in their school closure warning notice, that today might very well not be the only time that non-weather related incidents force them to cancel classes and require students to remain at home.

“Teachers are staying out and we’re fighting back, and we are building for a citywide strike,” Conn, a former teachers union president, added. “Our back is to the wall. We did not invent this situation, but we’re going to solve this situation.”

Exactly how walking out of class and leaving the students the teachers are tasked with educating sitting at home playing video games and browsing Facebook will solve the situation, remains to be explained. Interim Detroit Federation of Teacher President Ivy Bailey told said the sickouts were not sanctioned by the union, but added that she wants everyone to understand the frustration of the teachers, CNN reports.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder reportedly wants to pay off the debt accumulated by the Detroit school district and “spin off” the educational facility into a new district. Currently, Governor Snyder lacks the support needed by the state legislature to accomplish such a monumental task. Detroit sickout teachers are also reportedly upset at the continuing poor performance of the school. Opponents to the walkout have stated that keeping children out of class will only put them further behind in their studies.

A statement about the teacher sickout from the Detroit Public Schools had this to say about the closure of more than 50 schools on Monday follows.

“Although the District does not know exactly which schools are being targeted for closure, it felt that it was important to inform DPS’ families of the strong possibility of Monday closures so that they can plan appropriately for the care of their students.”

The message to parents also said that the Detroit Public Schools will send out school closure alerts no later than 6 a.m. if more teacher sickouts occur.

If the Detroit Public School District could prove that the teachers lied about being sick, they would not get a paid for the day and could face termination — but doing so would likely be extremely difficult. Most school districts do not require a note from a doctor until at least three days are missed by an employee. Even though so many teachers called off work in unison, that fact alone would not constitute enough proof to circumvent union contract dictates relating to the firing of a teacher — especially a tenured one.

Detroit Public Schools (DPS) Emergency manager Darnell Earley said that district officials understand the frustrations of the teachers, but noted that since the facility is already in “financial distress,” garnering the support of state lawmakers to invest funds into DPS becomes a “more challenging” task when sickouts are staged.

“Earley continued, “In order to build support for this critical investment, I and my team will continue to share districtwide concerns with the Governor’s administration as well as with Legislators,” Earley also said. “We will continue to elevate that discussion because it too is critical to a long-term successful outcome for Detroit Public Schools and its students.””

What do you think about the Detroit sickout?

[Image via Shutterstock]

Comments