Hundreds of teachers are expected to join the protest against right-to-work legislation in Lansing today, leading school districts to close some schools.
The Taylor School District sent an automated call to parents Monday, canceling classes because of expected high staff absenteeism. Warren Consolidated Schools also called off school for today because staffers notified the district Monday that they would be absent.
READ THE RIGHT-TO-WORK BILLS:
-- Senate Bill 116
-- House Bill 4003
-- House Bill 4054
"While I understand this is somewhat unusual, my No. 1 priority is student safety, and without an adequate number of staff members, we cannot hold school," Warren's superintendent, Robert Livernois, wrote in a letter to parents.
John Reilly, president of the Taylor School District Board of Education, said, "We were unable to staff all of our classrooms" after many employees gave notice that they would be absent. He assumed the absenteeism would be because of the protest, but he said teachers do not have to give a reason when they request a personal day off.
Detroit Public Schools spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski said all of the district's schools are open, with requests for substitutes to cover for absent teachers at normal levels.
"Teaching and learning will continue as normal in our 100 school buildings today, which is a nod to the professionalism and dedication of DPS' teachers and administrators," Zdrodowski said at about 8 a.m. today.
The American Federation of Teachers-Michigan distributed a list of places to board buses to the protest, including four union halls in Detroit, one in Taylor, nine in other metro locations and five outstate locations.
-- FOLLOW ON TWITTER: Live tweets from Michigan reporters covering #righttowork
The Detroit Federation of Teachers was not planning to take busloads of teachers to Lansing but was encouraging teachers to go.
Asked whether high teacher absenteeism would close schools in Detroit, DFT President Keith Johnson said, "Hopefully."
The extent of school closings -- if more occur -- may not be known until this morning, but local colleges expect to be open. Rick Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the University of Michigan, said there was no indication that faculty and staff planned to be in Lansing in large numbers today, the last day of classes for undergraduates.
Matt Lockwood, a spokesman for Wayne State University, had not heard of anyone from the university planning to attend the Lansing protests. A spokesman for Michigan State University could not be reached for comment.
Fitzgerald Public Schools in Warren is the third district to cancel classes today due to high absenteeism. In a note on the district's website, the superintendent, Barbara VanSweden, wrote a note similar to the one released by Warren Consolidated schools: "FPS is closed on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 due to the number of staff that are absent. The district will be closed just like a snow day. My first priority is student safety and without an adequate number of staff, we cannot hold school."
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