53 Detroit Schools Closed After Teacher 'Sick-Out'

Hundreds of Detroit teachers stayed home Wednesday, forcing more than 50 schools to close in what school officials described as a sick-out to protest a temporary pay cut.

The teachers are upset because some principals are getting raises while they are giving up five days of pay to help balance the district's budget, district spokeswoman Mattie Majors said.

School officials estimated that 1,500 of the district's 10,000 teachers were out sick Wednesday. Administrators and substitutes were sent to fill in, but 53 schools had to close, officials said.

The teachers' union, the Detroit Federation of Teachers, did not sanction the sick-out but was aware of rumors that it would take place, said president Janna Garrison.

Majors said the union agreed to the temporary pay cuts during contract negotiations. The money will be repaid in the fiscal year starting July 1, 2007, school officials said.

At the same time, however, some principals are getting pay raises. Majors said some principals with 10 years of experience make less than others with only two years' experience, and the school board wanted to end the inequity.

Garrison said teachers feel betrayed because they made concessions.

"It's taking our money that we're sacrificing ... and they're giving the administrators up to an 11 percent raise," she said.