Dallas teacher calls for sickout to protest extended day




Posted on January 29, 2012 at 6:36 PM

Updated Sunday, Jan 29 at 11:24 PM

DALLAS — Dallas public school teachers could soon be disappearing from the classroom for a day.

News 8 has learned of a call to action as plans emerge for a teacher "sickout" on February 29.

The effort is being promoted by a DISD teacher who prefers to remain anonymous.

"We feel that the district doesn't really recognize what we do," the teacher said.

The "Leap Day Sickout" proposal is posted on a blog, Teachers For Change. It follows a controversial vote by Dallas ISD trustees last Thursday extending a teacher's work day by 45 minutes without additional compensation.

The anonymous teacher behind the movement calls it a slap in the face to educators. "I can't think of one teacher that heard that they were going to be mandated to stay an extra 45 minutes and didn't have this look on their face — what are they thinking?" he said.

The five-year veteran DISD teacher behind the Web site said he didn't want to be identified, fearing repercussions, but wanted to take a stand for teachers who go above and beyond their job description every day.

"They will put in extra hours to plan lessons, to tutor students, do all things that need to get done for these kids to succeed," he said.

Alliance/AFT Dallas, the teachers' union, can't take a position on the sickout. But phone calls from teachers, upset by the vote, are coming in.

"The school day is not increasing," said Alliance/AFT spokesman David Lee. "This is time that's going to be filled with meetings, with more bureaucratic paperwork requirements, and many questioned how this will help students."

State law prohibits employees from participating in strikes or organized work stoppages against school districts. But the anonymous proponent of the sickout is hoping his message forces DISD trustees to throw out the extra-work policy before the February 29 deadline.

"I would like the district to reverse its decision on this 45 minutes," he said. "All we ask is that people respect us."

News 8 reached out to the district and some board trustees for comment, but we didn't get a response.

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com