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Tipsheet

School District Cancels Classes As 1,500 Teachers Call in Sick to Protest School Board

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

On Thursday, schools in Douglas County, Colorado closed after hundreds of teachers called in sick to protest against several actions carried out by the newly-elected school board, which became majority conservative in November.

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According to local outlet CPR News, by mid-day Wednesday, there were around 1,500 unfilled teacher absences for the following day. In total, there are about 3,300 licensed teachers in the school district.

The district then canceled preschool through high school classes because “the number of absences has impacted our ability to provide a safe and supervised learning environment for students,” according to a tweet posted by the school district. Reportedly, a rally against the new school board was also scheduled for Thursday.

“The mass sick day for teachers and the planned rally is the latest in rising tensions and tumult in the school district that started last year,” the report stated. “Four new conservative-leaning board members turned over the board in the November election, pushed into office by a wave of parents and others opposed to masks in school.”

The new school board “quickly” eliminated the school mask mandate, voted to change the district’s equity policy, and is advocating to remove the district’s superintendent, Corey Wise.

CPR News reported that the school board’s efforts to “dismantle” the district’s equity policy has “angered some parents and school officials.

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“A new resolution passed by the board last week directs the superintendent to recommend changes to the equity policy that reflect the new principles in the resolution. One of those is that no policy should ‘impose stereotypical beliefs and actions of an identity group onto a student,’” the report explained. “Supporters of the policy say that is not the intent of the original policy, which was passed unanimously last spring. They say the intent is to guide the predominantly white district in addressing unfair practices and complaints of racism, and to make student resources more representative of different groups of people. It creates an equity advisory committee, which has already met several times, to assist the school in this task.”

CPR News noted that the board member who drafted the proposal is not “rewriting” the equity policy, but that it is meant to get “more public input” on how the word “equity” is used in schools, which she said led to “shaming and retaliation against teachers, students and staff who express views and opinions that are counter to others’ views and opinions.”

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