The Detroit Public School system was denied a request for a temporary restraining order to block teachers from engaging in so-called “sick-out” protests over poor conditions at city schools. The strike down of the injunction on Monday was the second time a judge has sided with the teachers in their fight to improve workplace conditions.
The Detroit Free Press reports that Judge Cynthia Stephens of the Michigan Court of Claims saw no evidence that the sickouts are the handiwork of the Detroit Federation of Teachers union. The protests have closed several schools in the city, leaving students and parents scrambling for answers.
Judge Stephens will hold a hearing on Feb. 16 where attorneys for teachers and DPS are scheduled to present witnesses and submit their arguments in writing.
DPS attorney George Butler had argued earlier that it is illegal for teachers to strike under the Michigan Public Employment Relations Act.
“We are not interested in a witch hunt,” Butler said.
Marshall Widick, the attorney representing the DFT and most of the individual teachers named in the suit, said that the teachers’ actions were protected. He called the injunction request an “overreach.”
“This lawsuit frankly raises the specter of First Amendment retaliation, ” he said.
The DPS lawsuit filed last week named 28 defendants, including teachers and activists. A reported 88 of 100 schools were closed last week due to protests.
Teachers who work for DPS have complained of rodent and vermin infestation, crumbling buildings, inadequate plumbing and host of other potentially hazardous concerns. Additionally, low wages and crowded classrooms also make up a portion of the teachers’ argument.
SOURCE: Detroit Free Press | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty