Detroit Public Schools Stage “Sick-Out” Due to Toxic Conditions in Schools


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In Detroit Public Schools, musty smells, warped floors, and mold are a regular site, and now students and teachers from the schools are fed up with the unsafe conditions and have staged a “sick-out,” forcing the schools to close down for two days.

The teachers and parents of DPS are blaming the wrecked conditions of the schools on Republican Governor Rick Snyder and the legislature’s austerity measures to cut costs that is also being blamed for the lead contamination of the water supply in Flint, Michigan.

Flint residents have been using bottled water since their water supply became contaminated with lead in April 2014. The switch was deemed to be a cost-cutting measure while the city waited for a new pipeline to be built. However, the switch resulted in spiked lead levels in children, reported the Detroit Free Press. The water supply is now coming from Lake Huron, but many people are still concerned it is contaminated due to damaged pipes and other poor foundations.


Flint officials in early January declared a state of emergency due to the water, and last week the National Guard was deployed to hand out clean drinking water, new filters, and lead testing kits. However, the problem is being handled very slowly, much like the issue with the DPS. In charge of DPS is Darnell Earley, the same emergency manager who oversaw the changes in Flint’s water system.

The unsanitary conditions are due largely to the district’s massive debt problem. Nancy Muerhoff, a kindergarten teacher at Carleton Elementary in Detroit, shared with U.S. Uncut, that water from toilets above her classroom has been leaking through the ceiling for the past three years. Her classroom is connected to a rundown greenhouse that has not been cleaned in years. Muerhoff explained that her classroom has a “distinct odor that gives her frequent headaches.”

The conditions of the school look like something out of a horror movie. In response to the poor conditions, teachers have been forced to hold a “sick-out.”

“Their bathrooms are broken, and the drinking fountains are scarce. Mushrooms are literally growing from the walls. There is a mustiness in the air and people are getting sick, coming down with headaches, and finding it difficult to breathe,” shared U.S. Uncut

The poor conditions in the school systems have drawn parallels to the damaged water supply and how both situations are being poorly handled.

“No child in Flint should have to drink lead in water and no child in Detroit should have to learn under such conditions,” David Hecker, president of the American Federation of Teachers-Michigan explained. “The governor, legislature, and the emergency manager need to take action.”


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