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Compton teachers call in sick, demand higher pay

More than half of the teachers at Manuel Dominguez High School in Compton called in sick Tuesday, demanding pay raises.
March 11, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
More than half of the teachers at Manuel Dominguez High School in Compton called in sick Tuesday, demanding pay raises.

The walkout also had students rallying for teachers on campus. Some students called their parents to pick them up early, while substitutes were called in last minute to cover classes for the estimated 55 teachers who called out.

It created a chaotic morning for students, who said they were all sent to the school gymnasium.

"They had everyone sitting there for like exactly two hours and then they sent random classmates into random classes," said 11th-grader Justin Bush.

It wasn't long before students started calling their parents to pick them up.

"It concerned me because they didn't even notify parents that this was happening. My son actually called me. He let me know that they had been crowded into a classroom, mixed up, separated from the rest of the students, just kind of piled in one room and that there were no teachers on campus," said parent Kimberly Bush.

Other parents said they should have received some kind of warning.

"They're supposedly on strike because they're not making enough money. I can understand that part, but I mean give us fair warning that this is going to happen," said parent Isabel Soriano.

According to Compton Unified School District Superintendent Darin Brawley, enough substitute teachers and specialists were called in to supervise the 2,300-plus students. But without lesson plans in place, formal instruction was impossible.

The local teachers union, Compton Education Association, is adamant it did not sanction the move.

"There have been accusations that employees stayed home because we are not bargaining in good faith or refusing to bargain. But that is not true," said Patrick Sullivan, president of Compton Education Association.

But at Tuesday's school board meeting, Brawley announced a preliminary investigation indicates the sickout was a concerted work stoppage.

"The preliminary investigation has revealed that this is planned for several sites throughout the district on a rolling basis," said Brawley.

The teachers union, however, maintains it had no knowledge of the action and hope to negotiate in good faith.

"I stand with the teachers union in saying they did not coordinate or sanction this action. However, we must get down to the bottom of this. We must demand answers, and I am asking the union as well as the district to move expeditiously on negotiations, get to the table immediately and let's hammer out a deal within the next two weeks," said Micah Ali, Compton school board president.

Brawley said the district was scheduled to begin contract talks with the teachers union last week, but that no one showed up to the meeting. But the union's president told Eyewitness News that the meeting was canceled by the district.

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