detroit public schools

via Detroit Public Schools

The Detroit Public Schools is suing many of its own teachers over repeated sickout protests, and there’s an important court hearing in that fight Monday.

DPS maintains these repeated sickouts, which teachers have sporadically held to highlight serious problems in the district, amount to illegal strikes.

DPS officials are asking a Michigan Court of Claims judge to issue a preliminary injunction and order the teachers back to work.

Judge Cynthia Stephens denied the district’s request for a temporary restraining order last week.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools has lost an initial bid to stop frustrated teachers from staging repeated sickout protests.

Angry about classroom conditions, low pay and Lansing’s inaction in the face of near-insolvency, DPS teachers staged their largest sickout yet Wednesday, closing 88 schools.

The district, headed by state-appointed emergency manager Darnell Earley, went to the Michigan Court of Claims to get a restraining order the same day.

Judge Cynthia Stephens has now denied that initial request.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Some parents and community members in southwest Detroit plan to file a federal civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education.

That’s after the Detroit Public Schools removed bilingual office staff from several schools with predominantly Spanish-speaking parents last month.

“It’s a safety issue. It’s a civil rights issue,” said Maria Salinas, head of the group Congress of Communities. “This is the beginning of many people who will come out and fight. We shouldn’t have to fight.”

Detroit Public Schools

The Detroit Public Schools wants to force teachers to stop ongoing “sickout” protests.

The district has asked the Michigan Court of Claims to stop the rolling protests that closed 88 Detroit schools Wednesday.

"DPS has requested the court's intervention in addressing the ongoing teacher sick outs that are plaguing the district,” spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski said in a statement, adding: “There will be no further comment until we receive direction from the court."

Kate Wells

Angelita Davis says she’s got 52 kids in her eighth-grade classroom at Palmer Park Preparatory Academy.

“How do you walk into a classroom with 52 kids? They’re packed in there like sardines," she says, shaking her head as she marches on a downtown Detroit sidewalk Wednesday with dozens of other protesters.  

"We can't do it anymore. We just can't."

Recently, the math teacher at Davis’ school had to move her class to the library. But not because of overcrowding. Because of rats in the classroom. "They ran the kids right out of the room," says one teacher. 

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Metro Detroit’s “big four” leaders got together for their annual public chat before the Detroit Economic Club at the North American International Auto Show Tuesday.

This year, two big topics dominated the conversation: the Flint water crisis, and the impending financial collapse of Detroit Public Schools.

Each of the leaders — Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan — said Gov. Snyder had mishandled the state’s response to Flint’s drinking water contamination.

michigan.gov

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s State of the State address is tonight. He’s expected to discuss his long-term plans to resolve the water crisis in Flint.

Governor Snyder has taken a lot of heat over the state’s role in creating the water problems in Flint and for the response to the crisis.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit parents say they’re angry about conditions in the city’s schools — and ready to do something about it.

Dozens of them packed a meeting led by the Detroit Parent Network Thursday night.

Over the past few weeks, Detroit Public Schools have been facing sick-outs from teachers protesting school conditions, pay, and Governor Snyder’s proposed plan to address the district’s massive debt.

I spoke to Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants about the situation at DPS and whether there is a clear path forward.

Mayor Mike Duggan toured some Detroit schools and says the conditions are a mixed bag.

Bills to restructure Detroit K-12 finally proposed

Jan 14, 2016
flickr user Motown31 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Legislation to overhaul Detroit's troubled school district has finally been introduced, more than eight months after Gov. Rick Snyder first proposed the restructuring.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talks about the Flint water crisis: how Flint is getting help at the federal level, when Governor Snyder first knew about the water problem and how this crisis has hurt him politically. Lessenberry also talks about why teachers at the Detroit Public Schools are protesting many issues by staging "sickouts."


Detroit Federation of Teachers

The Detroit Federation of Teachers spoke out Monday about what union officials called “third world” conditions in some Detroit Public Schools buildings.

The DFT has largely stood on the sidelines while its members have staged escalating “sickout” protests in recent weeks. More than 60 Detroit schools were closed Monday.

But the DFT is now denouncing what it calls “toxic” conditions in many Detroit schools.

Those range from health hazards—including black mold and rodent problems--to oversized classes and a lack of supplies.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Two more Detroit Public Schools were closed for teacher “sickouts” on Thursday.

This time, it was Detroit’s Renaissance and Martin Luther King high schools.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

A new report lays out the stark reality of how the Detroit Public Schools is rapidly sinking under its debt burden.

The report from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan also details how the district accumulated its $3.5 billion debt load by mid-2015.

Almost $1.9 billion of that is “operational” debt – meaning it’s paid off by money that could otherwise be used in the classroom and for other day-to-day district expenses.

Detroit Public Schools

One of Detroit’s top public schools was closed Tuesday, after too many teachers called in sick.

It’s just the latest in a string of “sickout” protests at Detroit Public Schools.

Teachers at Cass Technical High School say they staged the sickout because it’s the only form of protest they have in the district, which is run by a state-appointed emergency manager.

Cass Tech English teacher Dorothea Williams-Arnold says they’re protesting huge class sizes, stagnant pay, and skyrocketing health insurance costs, among other things.

flickr user Motown31 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Public schools in Detroit are looking at a rough year ahead.

Debt payments for Detroit Public Schools are already the highest of any school district in the state, but things are going to get even more dire next month.

Chad Livengood of The Detroit News' Lansing Bureau tells us that DPS will owe $26 million every month through 2016 to pay back this year’s operating debts, as well as debts carried over from previous years.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder says lawmakers could first tackle the Detroit school district's debt and possibly leave until later his call for a new commission to close poor-performing traditional and charter schools.

  The Republican governor told The Associated Press in a year-end interview that pending legislation to split the district in two to retire debt and to empower a chief education officer to hold schools accountable could go on "parallel or somewhat separate tracks." Snyder says the more urgent issue in terms of timing is the state-run district's finances.

lockers lining a school hallway
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder says he’s slowing down his plans to fix Detroit’s schools in order to get the process moving. In the face of resistance from Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature, the governor says he wants to break up the work, focusing first on retiring the district’s massive debt.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Seven Detroit Public Schools closed Thursday when too many teachers called in sick.

The “sick-out” is mostly a protest against Governor Snyder’s plans for the troubled district, which he wants to split in two and put through a bankruptcy-like overhaul.

Lawmakers are continuing their autumn recess, but they’ll soon be back in Lansing to focus on Governor Rick Snyder’s plan for Detroit schools.

lockers lining a school hallway
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Some local school officials in Michigan would be OK with tapping the state’s School Aid Fund to help Detroit Public Schools pay down debt. That’s if they get some assurances.

Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposal would tap the state’s School Aid Fund to pay for the measure. School leaders outside Detroit have balked at that idea – saying the plan shouldn’t come at the expense of every other Michigan student.

user alkruse24 / Flickr

With the roads funding plan behind them, the Michigan Legislature is on break until December. When they return, fixing Detroit Public Schools will be at the top of the legislative agenda.

Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed a controversial plan for DPS that would start a new district responsible for educational instruction and general operations while leaving the roughly $500 million in legacy debt with the old district.

Jake Neher / MPRN

State lawmakers are taking a three-week break for deer hunting and Thanksgiving.

  

And they’ll have a lot of work waiting for them when they return to Lansing.

Detroit schools' budget deficit smaller than expected

Nov 10, 2015
lockers lining a school hallway
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

A recent audit showed the Detroit Public Schools' deficit for the 2014-15  fiscal year is smaller than originally projected.

DPS officials said they had expected the annual deficit to be in the range of $70 million. But the audit puts it at $46.5 million, more than $22 million less.

Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

Now that state lawmakers have cobbled together a roads package, the spotlight can turn to fresh priorities.

For example, fixing Detroit’s collapsing school system.

The governor estimates it will take more than $700 million to rehabilitate Detroit’s public schools and warns that if the state doesn’t tackle the mammoth school debt, things will only get worse.

This Week in Michigan Politics, I talk with Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry about the investigation into the Flint water crisis, Governor Rick Snyder's plan to overhaul Detroit schools, and proposed changes in how teachers are evaluated.


Governor Rick Snyder yesterday unveiled his new plan to fix Detroit Public Schools. Actually, it is a variation on one he put forth in April. Like that plan, it seems heavily based on the model General Motors adopted to emerge from bankruptcy.

The schools would be divided into a “new” district and an “old” one.

The “old district” wouldn’t have anything to do with the kids, but would be saddled with paying down the district’s massive debts, now more than half a billion dollars. The “new” district would be run by a Detroit Education Commission and would be in charge of educating the students.

Jake Neher / MPRN

Gov. Rick Snyder wants the Legislature to adopt an expensive, controversial plan to overhaul Detroit’s schools by the end of the year.

Snyder outlined his plan in Detroit on Monday. The goal is to rescue Detroit Public Schools from crushing debt and dismal academic results.


Gov. Snyder at a press conference this month announcing his plan to overhaul the Detroit Public School District.
screenshot / Livestream

Gov. Snyder's plan would split the current school district in two.

Similar to the GM bankruptcy, there would essentially be an "old" Detroit Public Schools district and a new district.

The old district would pay down the school system's debt with the current school millage in Detroit.

Snyder says DPS is expected to have $515 million in operating debt by June 2016.

Snyder says that debt could be paid off over 10 years using the $70 million a year the millage brings in.

Governor Rick Snyder is facing a tough sell today as he tries to re-start the conversation on fixing Detroit’s schools. And, that’s just one of the political tough sells the Second Term Nerd is facing.

Pages