DPS teachers want to get Obama's attention

Posted at 6:27 PM, Jan 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-19 18:27:34-05

Most teachers in the Detroit Public School District plan to protest during President Barack Obama's visit to Detroit, but they are divided on how to get their message across.

The Detroit Federation of Teachers is calling on teachers not to close down any schools. It says the sickout protests in recent weeks have sent a message, but at this time schools need to remain open for kids.

DFT President Ivy Bailey says the union is making progress. It met with district leaders for hours this morning.

The district agreed to end several hour long after school mandatory staff meetings. The meetings will be limited to one hour. 

The district also returned to teachers paid time off that had been taken away and promised to form a committee to focus on improving curriculum support. 

Bailey also says sickouts are not necessary at this time to get the president's attention. President Obama has heard their concerns and reached out to union leaders. 

"He has reached out to our national office. He plans to have some of his representatives come out and speak to teachers. So our message has been heard. I know we have to continue to fight, but we have to put children first in our fight," said Bailey.

She is inviting the public to a rally at 4:30 p.m. outside the North American International Auto Show. 

Ousted Detroit Federation of Teachers President Steve Conn is organizing his own protest.  He says he is calling on teachers to take part in a sickout to send a message to the president they need federal intervention.

He says he has planned a protest that will meet at the Hilton Garden Inn at 9 in Detroit.  There will be a march to Cobo where the president will tour the North American International Auto Show on Wednesday.

Conn says he has large groups of teachers from at least 15 schools committed to calling in and taking part. He expects sickouts. 

Conn says he will call on teachers at his protest to vote on whether or not to strike.

Conn also will receive a hearing on Wednesday during which he will appeal the decision to oust him from the union.