Parents threaten student sick-out on Count Day

Posted at 6:29 PM, Feb 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-10 06:59:45-05

Today is "Count Day" at schools across Michigan. The state will keep track of attendance and then determines funding for schools.

So, why are some parents threatening to keep their kids at home?

Kateya Graves says the goal is to send a message to Detroit Public Schools.

“I think as parents we have more power than we think we have, because without us they don’t have any kids,” said Graves.

Graves has three children in Detroit Public Schools. She says she will keep them home because money is power, and the district needs to return some form of power to parents.

Graves knows Count Day attendance determines about 10 percent of the school district's state funding in Michigan. 

She isn’t the only one taking part in this protest. 

The organizers of what they call a  "student sick-out" say they want a forensic accounting of where district money is going, schools fixed up to code, and local control before the district is paid for doing what they say is a poor job of educating their kids.

One church is supporting students who take part. The Central United Methodist Church at 23 E Adams Ave in Detroit is inviting parents to sent their kids to its “Freedom School.” 

Students who go there will be fed, and provided social studies, black history, art, music, and gym classes for the day.

7 Action News reached out to the state to ask is there anything the district can do to get funding if parents decide to move forward with this plan.

The answer is yes, but it will take work. The district will have to document attendance within 10 days of the unexcused absence.

Detroit Public Schools Executive Director of Communications  Michelle Zdrodowski said such a protest benefits no one.

"In order to attain our goal of having a school system that is not only academically competitive, but also financially sustainable, it is critical that students attend school all day, every day. When they are not in class, it hurts their potential for academic success and exacerbates the serious financial challenges already facing the District. Attendance on the two Count Days is especially important, because the District's per pupil funding is based on the number of students who attend school on these two critical days (one in October and one in February) of each school year," said Zdrodowski.