Detroit Teachers Call In Sick: 94 of 97 Schools Closed

Teachers found out they likely won't get paid past June 30
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2016 12:15 PM CDT
Detroit Teachers Call In Sick: 94 of 97 Schools Closed
A teacher at Western International High School and other teachers from Detroit-area schools protest during a previous sickout on Jan. 20, 2016.   (Todd McInturf/Detroit News via AP)

Detroit Public Schools' finances are in such bad shape that teachers were told over the weekend they won't be getting paid past June 30, barring emergency funds from the Michigan Legislature, the Detroit Free Press reports. Most of the district's 2,600 or so teachers aren't taking this news sitting down—at least not behind their desks at their schools, thanks to a mass sickout Monday urged by the Detroit Federation of Teachers the day before. Ninety-four of the district's 97 schools were unable to open their doors Monday to students (46,000 total in the district), and hundreds of teachers called for an independent audit and the "pay we have earned," as the executive VP of the union puts it, at a Monday rally.

About two-thirds of the district's teachers participate in a plan that distributes paychecks throughout the entire year, instead of just during the school year—and they say they were told there'd be enough money to cover their summer checks out of the $48.7 million the Legislature directed to the district last month. Gov. Rick Snyder, meanwhile, called the sickout "not constructive" on Monday, per the AP, echoing Sunday's sentiments from Judge Steven Rhodes, the district's appointed emergency manager. Rhodes says although he understands the teachers' "frustration and anger," he also thinks the sickout was a "drastic" and "unfortunate" decision, as he's sure that lawmakers working on a $720 million bailout plan will come through, CNN reports. Strikes for teachers, cops, and other city workers are technically illegal in the state under the 1947 Michigan Public Employment Relations Act, though the Free Press notes they happen anyway. (More Detroit stories.)

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