DPS tells principals to call police on union inspectors

The Detroit News

Detroit — Detroit Public Schools told principals to call police if health inspectors affiliated with the teachers union entered the schools and refused to leave.

In the undated directive, released Thursday by the Detroit Federation of Teachers, a district administrator said the schools should consider the union’s inspectors “trespassers.”

“(The unions) ARE NOT to conduct inspection of our schools without prior approval by Operations or General Counsel,” read the directive by Errick Greene, special assistant to DPS Emergency Manager Darnell Earley.

Ivy Bailey, the union’s interim president, said she was appalled the district would contact the police.

“Detroit Public Schools should be ashamed of itself,” she said in a statement.

“It is sad that the emergency manager is continuing to spend time threatening and punishing the very people who want to address and fix the unsafe conditions in our school buildings.”

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A spokeswoman for the school district said the buildings already are being checked by inspectors with the city of Detroit and the addition of the union’s inspectors could get in the way.

So far, 46 of the district’s 97 schools have been examined by the city, said the spokeswoman, Michelle Zdrodowski.

“The District is confident in the City Inspectors’ ability to identity and documents issues regarding building conditions and safety,” she said in a statement.

Beginning last month, the city of Detroit has sent inspectors to DPS schools, with plans to check all the buildings in the next few months.

The district said this week it is addressing some of the violations found so far.

Also joining the fray was the Michigan Nurses Association, which released a statement of its own.

John Armelagos, president of the nurses’ union, said he was troubled to learn that the union’s inspectors could be arrested.

“How are children supposed to learn if we aren’t even protecting them from injury or illness,” he asked.

The teachers’ union brought in health inspectors from New York City, Washington, D.C., and Connecticut to check conditions at nine schools.

The union has a lawsuit pending against the district over poor building conditions.

Reports of problems ranging from mold and water damage to rodent infestations and a lack of heat led teachers to conduct a series of sickouts, forcing dozens of district schools to close.

DPS asked the Michigan Court of Claims last month to issue a preliminary injunction barring further sickouts; a hearing on the request is scheduled for March 7.