'Fed Up' DPS Teachers Say Black Mold, Roaches Among Reasons For 'Sickouts'
DETROIT (WWJ/AP) -- About a hundred teachers marched in freezing temperatures outside the Fisher Building on Monday, protesting what they say are deplorable conditions at Detroit's schools.
Another mass "sickout" by the disgruntled educators closed over 50 schools Monday. Among common complaints are mice, roaches and bedbugs plaguing facilities, oversized classrooms and poor security.
Ivy Bailey, interim president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, displayed photos of mold in schools.
"This is why those sick-outs happened," she told reporters, adding that classes have too many students and rodents are plentiful.
"This is black mold and our children are in the building breathing this day-in and day-out," Bailey said. "[Our children] are at home anyway because they're sick because of this. This is the 21st Century, really? This is third-world, this should not be happening to us."
Mariette Elliot, a special education teacher in the district, was among those asking DPS emergency manger Darnell Earley to leave.
"We're just fed up," Elliot said. "Year after year after year it has been proven that the EM management system just does not work. As of right now, we're asking that he be removed because it's not working."
Parents who attended the protest said that they have to buy books for their children because some schools have stopped supplying them.
"All of those hipsters who are moving into our city, once their life stage changes and they start to have children, where are they going to take their children?" one parent said at the protest. "The city cannot survive if we do not have a strong educational system."
Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, wants to pay off the debt and spin off a new district, but he lacks support so far in the Legislature. There are no ongoing negotiations between teachers and schools, which are run by a Snyder appointee, emergency manager Darnell Earley.
"We understand and share their frustration," Earley said in a statement, referring to teachers.
But the absences make it "more challenging" to reach a political solution with state lawmakers in the Capitol, he said.
A teacher and former union president, Steve Conn, said the shutdowns were "great." He warned the district Sunday that parents needed to be notified about the "rolling strikes."
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