Detroit Public School’s Restraining Order To Stop Protests Over School Conditions Has Been Rejected

Casey Quinlan

Casey Quinlan Education Reporter, ThinkProgress

The Michigan Court of Claims has denied Detroit Public Schools’ request for a temporary restraining order that was meant to stop teachers from calling in sick to protest poor school conditions.

Detroit Public Schools filed an emergency court motion for a restraining order and preliminary injunction Wednesday, January 21. The protests, or “sick-outs” as they are called, have been going on for weeks and have resulted in many school closures. On January 21, 88 of about a hundred schools were closed.

Judge Cynthia Stephens said she does not have enough information because there isn’t proof the teachers union, Detroit Federation of Teachers, urged this number of teachers to protest, but there is another hearing set for next month, according to the Detroit Free Press.

At the hearing, the attorneys representing the school district and teachers union will have a chance to submit briefs. The attorney for DPS, George Butler, claimed the strike is illegal under the Michigan Public Employment Relations Act. Detroit teachers are currently wearing red to signal unity during the sickouts.

The Twitter account @teachDetroit has been releasing teachers’ photos of moldy and rotten cafeteria food, dead rodents, missing ceiling tiles, and broken toilets, which represent some of the poor school conditions teachers are protesting over.


DPS is in a lot of debt and has to pay $26 million per month to service more than $260 million in loans that keep the schools operating — payments that don’t even cover all of the district’s debt and are a substantial increase from last year’s payments. The district could soon face bankruptcy.

Teachers’ anger over school conditions is inextricably tied to the Flint water crisis. The former emergency manager for Flint, Darnell Earley, recently became the school system’s emergency manager. Given the fact that residents of Flint currently have contaminated drinking water, teachers are not confident in Earley’s leadership in improving school conditions.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan recently ordered inspections for all Detroit schools, which began earlier this month. The inspectors found 16 violations at Spain Elementary Middle School, including rodents, missing floor tiles, water damage, mold, and broken glass, according to the Detroit News. Ben Carson High School, named after Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson, had 17 code concerns such as missing ceiling tiles and needed elevator and bathroom repairs.


This has been reposted from Think Progress.


Images from Detroitteach on Twitter.

Casey Quinlan is an education reporter for ThinkProgress. Previously, she was an editor for U.S. News and World Report. She has covered investing, education crime, LGBT issues, and politics for publications such as the NY Daily News, The Crime Report, The Legislative Gazette, Autostraddle, City Limits, The Atlantic and The Toast.

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