Sick-Out in Detroit Closes Schools

Sick-Out in Detroit Closes Schools

DETROIT (AP) -- Dozens of Detroit Public Schools are closed for the day Monday, the district said, after the teachers union urged members to call in sick in a protest over funding issues.

The move by the Detroit Federation of Teachers was announced Sunday, a day after the district's transition manager said the district will have no money to continue paying teachers this summer without further funding from the state.

"There's a basic agreement in America: When you put in a day's work, you'll receive a day's pay," Detroit Federation of Teachers Interim President Ivy Bailey said in a statement. "DPS is breaking that deal. Teachers want to be in the classroom giving children a chance to learn and reach their potential.

"Unfortunately, by refusing to guarantee that we will be paid for our work, DPS is effectively locking our members out of the classrooms."

District spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski said in a statement Monday morning that 67 of the district's about 100 schools would be closed for the day.

In March, Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law emergency funding that is keeping the district operating through the end of the school year as the state Legislature considers a $720 million restructuring plan that would pay off the district's enormous debt.

Former bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes, who was appointed this year to oversee the district, also said Saturday that DPS will be unable to fund summer school or special education programs after June 30.

On Sunday night, he said in a statement that the union's "choice for a drastic call to action was not necessary" and said that a sickout is "counterproductive and detrimental" to the efforts of those trying to help the school district.

"I understand the frustration and anger that our teachers feel," Rhodes said. "I am, however, confident that the legislature will support the request that will guarantee that teachers will receive the pay that is owed to them."

Teacher strikes are illegal under Michigan law. Sick-outs earlier this year caused tens of thousands of students to miss class.

(KA)