Education

School District Cancels Classes After Nearly 1,500 Teachers Call In Sick To Protest Conservative School Board

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Kendall Tietz Education Reporter
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A school district in Colorado was forced to cancel classes Thursday after nearly 1,500 employees called in sick to protest the actions of its conservative school board, CPR News reported.

Of the estimated 3,300 licensed teachers in the Douglas County School District (DCSD) there were nearly 1,500 unfilled teacher absences filed for Thursday as of mid-Wednesday, according to three school board members, CPR News reported. Teachers are reportedly calling in sick as part of a protest against actions of the conservative school board majority, who ended the district’s mask mandate, voted to amend the district’s equity policy and is advocating to remove the district’s superintendent, Corey Wise.

DCSD announced a “no-student contact day,” citing “a large number of staff who have submitted absences for Thursday, February 3” that has “reached the point where the number of absences has impacted our ability to provide a safe and supervised learning environment for students,” according to the district website. A rally outside the district’s headquarters is reportedly planned for Thursday in protest of the school board.

In November 2021, four members won seats shifting the school board to a conservative majority, CPR News reported. Three school board members, Elizabeth Hanson, David Ray and Susan Meek reportedly said president Mike Peterson and vice president Christy Williams met with Wise and told him he could either quit or be fired.

During a public meeting Monday night, the three school board members said the private meeting was a violation of Colorado’s open meeting law, CPR News reported. Another reported concern among parents, teachers and school officials is the board’s efforts to change the equity policy, including a new principle that no policy should “impose stereotypical beliefs and actions of an identity group onto a student.” (RELATED: Anti-Defamation League Redefines Racism For The Second Time Since Summer 2020)

Those in favor of the equity policy argue it is a guide for the district to address complaints of racism and provide better student resources for different groups, CPR News reported. On Jan. 25, over fifty principals and 13 central office staff reportedly signed a letter asking the school board to keep the current equity policy.

School board member Kaylee Winegar said the new proposal isn’t rewriting the equity policy, but instead allows more public input about how equity is implemented in its schools, CPR News reported.

The word equity has led to “shaming and retaliation against teachers, students and staff who express views and opinions that are counter to others’ views and opinions,” Winegar reportedly said.

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