Michigan state court judge dismisses teachers union and its interim president from Detroit district’s suit seeking to end teacher sickouts

Education Week reports that the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) and its interim president have been dismissed from a lawsuit filed by the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) seeking to end teacher sickouts. DPS filed suit in January 2016 against teachers, grassroots groups, and DFT, seeking an injunction to stop the mass protests that have closed dozens of schools over the past two months.

DPS argued that the sickouts are really strikes, which are illegal in Michigan. DFT denied that it was behind the sickouts, but teachers have been using the mass absences to call attention to the district’s decaying buildings, large class sizes, and declining pay and benefits.

Although the case against the union has been dismissed, the court will proceed with the school district’s suit against two teachers, Nicole Conaway and Steven Conn, who is the former president of DFT. The two are accused of encouraging the strikes.

The lawsuit is just one facet of the ongoing legal struggle between teachers and the leadership of the troubled state-run district. DFT, along with the American Federation of Teachers, has filed a lawsuit against DPS and outgoing Emergency Manager Darnell Earley, alleging that DPS has failed to “provide a minimally adequate education and to properly maintain the schools.”

Source: Education Week, 2/26/16, By Corey Mitchell

[Editor’s Note: In January 2016, Legal Clips summarized an article from CNN reporting that the DFT had filed suit against DPS demanding removal of DPS’ emergency manager and accusing officials of allowing the conditions at schools “to deteriorate to the point of crisis.” DFT is asking the court to order immediate repairs for conditions that are relegating “children to spend their young lives in deplorable surroundings” and requests the creation of a capital plan to bring schools up to standard.]


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