Detroit teachers vacate classrooms, fill streets; want to be paid this summer

Teachers are expected to return to the classrooms Wednesday in this live report by Amy Lange.

- (WEB UPDATE) Detroit teachers and students are expected to be back in school on Wednesday after the first two days of the week were canceled due to massive teacher sick-outs.

Most of the teachers are supposed to be paid during the summer months for the work they did during the school year and protested because they learned they were not going to be paid.

Detroit's school teachers skipped school for the second day in a row on Tuesday and shut down 94 schools. In the process, they hit the streets for another massive protest as they're at risk of losing their summer paychecks.

As the district drowns in debt, the teachers are staring down the hard truth that they may not get paid this summer for the work they're doing this spring. For the second day, teachers called out sick - but are insisting this is a lockout and not a sick out.

On Tuesday, the district closed 94 of its 97 schools -- the same number of schools that canceled classes on Monday, when more than 1,500 teachers did not show up for work. More than 45,000 students missed class.

Hundreds of teachers protested in front of DPS headquarters on West Grand Boulevard for the second straight day after the district said they would run out of money after June 30.

They want to know the answer to one question: what happened to their money?

"We have already earned this money. Every two weeks, money is deducted from our pay and we thought (it) was set aside and in a restricted fund so that we could continue to get paid over the summer," counselor Lakia Wilson said.

"I trusted them with my money to keep for me so that I could be paid all year round and to find out that they took it and spent it is terrible," teacher Barbara Case said.

Many teacher opt to have their paychecks distributed every two weeks - including into the summer - that way paychecks don't dry up in June, July, and early August. The head of the American Federation of Teachers is in Detroit and compared the district's actions to theft. She hopes to finding a solution to guarantee Detroit's teachers get paid.

The Detroit Federation of Teachers vows to stay out until that happens.

"Our members want to work - they miss their children - but nobody can be asked to work without being paid," DFT Interim President Ivy Bailey said.

Now, the teachers have other allies as well: Detroit students and parents.

"If we don't do what we were supposed to do right now then we're going to be a lost generation. So I'm not mad at the teachers at all. The teachers are doing what they need to do," parent Ralph Rayner said.

The protests came the same day a House Committee approved a $500 million plan to restructure DPS.


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