Why teachers won Detroit's 'sick-out' case
A court has ruled in favor of teachers who protested the poor working conditions in Detroit schools by calling in sick, as the district struggles to function while covering its debt.
Daniel Mears/The Detroit News/AP/FileView Caption
An eight-month court battle – between Detroit's struggling school district and teachers accused of inciting illegal strikes – ended Friday with a court decision in the teachers' favor.
Two teachers won the months-long case against the school district because their protests were essentially political rather than work-related, Ann Zaniewski reported for the Detroit Free Press. The court decided that if teachers see politics as the cause of work-related problems, then complaints about those work conditions – even taking the form of intentional sick-outs – receive First Amendment protection.
The ruling emphasized teachers' rights to protest, and signaled a victory forparents and administrators, wrote the Christian Science Monitor's Stacy Teicher Khadaroo in January:
After more than a decade of losing enrollment and amassing debt largely under state-appointed emergency managers, the Detroit public school district could be on the verge of writing a new chapter for itself – one in which educators, students, and parents insist on taking back control of their destiny.Through a series of “sick-outs” that forced more than half of schools to close in recent weeks, teachers “have effectively made the argument that we’re seeing a lack of accountability,” says Thomas Pedroni, a professor at Wayne State University in Michigan who has studied the impact of education policies in Detroit and the state.
Teachers closed schools 14 times during the 2016 school year with strikes protesting the state's emergency management of Detroit schools, The Wall Street Journal reported. Leaders at the state and local level criticized them as hurting the already-struggling effort to educate Detroit's children, but the union insisted the strikes brought attention to problems hurting Why teachers won Detroit's 'sick-out' case - CSMonitor.com: