DETROIT (WWJ) – Mass teacher sickouts have prompted nearly all of Detroit Public Schools to close on the day President Barack Obama is set to visit the city.
More than 85 schools across the city are closed Wednesday because of excessive teacher absences — the largest in a string of recent sickouts meant to call attention to high class sizes, dilapidated buildings and other problems in Michigan’s largest school district. [COMPLETE LIST HERE]
DPS officials say they have “no other option but to close schools when teachers do not report for work.” Michelle Zdrodowski, DPS spokesperson, said staff members at the schools which have closed must still report for work Wednesday or take a personal leave day. Otherwise, staff could face disciplinary action as most of the district’s 46,000 students sit at home.
Zdrodowski said the call-offs have left just nine school buildings open across the district.
Cass Tech teacher and activist Steve Conn says teachers are planning to participate in a march along Gratiot, ending outside Cobo Center where President Obama will be attending the auto show.
“We have got to stop this whole business by Snyder, which is an attempt just further the charters and further, really, the destruction of education in the city. We are determined to win that fight. The whole next generation relies on it,” said Conn.
The call to strike came just after the Governor Rick Snyder’s State of the State address.
Related: Gov. Snyder is also under fire for elevated lead levels being found in the Flint water supply. He’s pledged to release 18 months of his email related to the issue.
“We’re having huge success, we are finally getting at least some attention to the problem we are going to have to continue on with the strike, if we are going to get real solutions by the governor – which really is to give us back our schools — no more emergency manager now,” said Conn.
Conn says because of the “sickout protests,” teachers are finally getting the attention that’s needed to the pressing issues they’ve been dealing with for years, some of which he says include, overcrowded class rooms, and deplorable building conditions.
Due to high teacher absences, the following schools will be closed Wednesday, January 20, 2016:
Academy of Americas
Adult Education Center – West
Ann Arbor Trail
DCP @ Northwestern
Detroit International Academy
Detroit Lions Academy
Detroit School of the Arts
Diane Banks Williamson
East English Village
ML King, Jr. HS
Moses Field Center
Renaissance High School
Paul Robeson/Malcolm X
West Side Academy