Despite sick out, DISD teacher attendance higher than normal

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by CYNTHIA VEGA

WFAA

Posted on February 29, 2012 at 9:27 AM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 29 at 6:21 PM

DALLAS - An anonymous teacher's crusade to create a sick out among teachers in the Dallas Independent School District did not happen.

The Dallas Independent School District announced the percentage of teachers who called in sick or took a personal day Wednesday is 13 percent lower than an average day, despite calls for the teacher "sick out."

An anonymous teacher in the DISD has encouraged fellow teachers to join him in what he has called a "Leap Day Sick Out" Wednesday. The teacher, calling himself Mr. Jones, is protesting the DISD board's recent decision to extend the teachers' school day by 45 minutes without a pay raise.

 

At North Dallas High School today, teachers told News 8 they did not dare call in sick for fear of losing their jobs. Even those who agreed with the reason for the sick out said calling in sick would not change anything.

One DISD high school teacher told News 8 she didn't know of a single teacher planning to call in sick Wednesday at her South Dallas campus. She said they didn't even consider it.

However, she said teacher morale has plummeted ever since the school board decided to extend the school day without even consulting teachers. She says already have more than enough mandates to manage.

Representatives for the local teachers' union did not endorse the protest in any way.

Parents at North Dallas High School sounded off on the matter while dropping their teens off for school this morning.

Mom Maria Gonzalez told News 8 the teachers deserve more money if they're being asked to extend their work day to spend more time with students.

Mom Sylvia Villalpando told News 8 she disagreed with the sick out, saying the teachers would be setting a bad example for students. Villalpando said if students are not allowed to skip, teachers shouldn't skip either.

The teacher organizing the sick out tried to reassure fellow teachers they are not breaking the law by calling in sick.

"Mr. Jones" posted on his blog Tuesday night, "do not give in to the fear mongers. District policy does not require a doctor's note if you are absent for one day. If asked, you were sick. End of story."

DISD spokesperson Jon Dahlander said the Board acted on a recommendation to extend the school day for teachers as a way to improve student performance by giving them more time in the classroom at a time when the district has fewer teachers overall.

Dahlander also said the idea came up last fall and was discussed before the Board approved the plan early this year. Dahlander said the district probably could have done a better job of communicating the message to teachers first.

Dahlander said the district does value its teachers and knows they are committed, and it is why they are in the classroom today. He also said because of DISD teachers, the district graduated the highest number of DISD students last year since 1983, the dropout rate is down 50 percent over the last three years and the district has more students scoring at college-ready levels.


E-mail cvega@wfaa.com

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