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Detroit Teachers Call For Change As Superintendent Ditches New Calendar

"We have to give clarity to our parents."

May 14, 2019 - 11:16 pm

DETROIT (WWJ) -- Hundreds of Detroit Federation of Teachers union members turned out at Renaissance High School Tuesday night to voice their concerns about proposed changes to the school year calendar, pay raises and building upgrades.

Following protests outside the school, roughly 400 union members in red t-shirts took turns demanding change during the meeting.

Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Dr. Nicolai Vitti rescinded a change to the school calendar that would have seen schools start before Labor Day -- a week earlier than normal.

"Because we have been negotiating and could not come to an agreement, we simply will move forward with the same structure as last year’s calendar," Vitti said. "It’s time to move on. We have planning to do over the summer. We have to give clarity to our parents, to our parents about what the calendar will look like."

The proposed change would have also recognized a Muslim holiday with a day off school and included fewer professional development days for teachers. The district will use the same calendar for 2019-2020 as this school year.

DFT president Terrance Martin, speaking during public comment, wanted to make sure teachers' union members got their due credit for the decision not to change the calendar.

"The people standing in this room defeated the calendar. And to suggest that working an extra five days is a raise is absurd and disrespectful to the people that are standing and work these jobs.”

Union officials say the 5 days would have been added without compensation, but Vitti says they would have been paid for those days. The district and the union are currently in contract negotiations.