Detroit teachers’ union agrees to settle lawsuit over buildings

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By Dan Whitcomb

<span class="articleLocation”>Detroit public school teachers’ union said on
Thursday it had agreed to a settlement of its lawsuit against
the district over deteriorating buildings that calls for a
committee to oversee repairs and maintenance.

The settlement, which must be approved by a court, would end
the high-profile litigation filed in January over what the
Detroit Federation of Teachers claimed were facilities left in
such poor shape that the district was no longer providing a
minimally sufficient education.

“This agreement brings Detroit closer to the great public
schools the Detroit Federation of Teachers has been fighting
for,” Ivy Bailey, the union’s interim president, said in a
written statement.

“This settlement will finally allow us to turn the page and
devote our time to educating and enriching the lives of our
students and their families,” Bailey said.

Representatives for the Detroit Public Schools Community
District could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Detroit Public Schools is under state oversight and
pressured by declining enrollment. Heavy pension and debt
obligations have left the district in danger of running out of
cash in April.

The district’s emergency manager, Darnell Earley, previously
served as emergency manager in Flint, Michigan, where growing
criticism of the state and federal handling of lead
contamination in tap water has become a national scandal.

Earley has said plans to address building disrepair are part
of a financial investment proposal before the legislature.

The union says teachers are frustrated over crumbling walls,
rats, mold in classrooms and student overcrowding, combined with
a teacher shortage and low pay.

The lawsuit follows a mass demonstration by teachers who
called in sick on Jan. 20, 2016, in such large numbers that all
but nine of the 97 public schools were forced to close that day,
leaving 44,790 students out of class.

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