The Detroit Federation of Teachers has struck out at Detroit Public Schools (DPS) and DPS emergency manager Darnell Earley with a lawsuit claiming the district allowed schools to deteriorate “to the point of crisis” and have put the health and safety of students and staff at risk.
The action comes on the heels of a massive teacher “sick-out” which closed almost every school in the district to call attention to the unsafe conditions they say are widespread across the district.
The suit alleges a litany of deplorable conditions in DPS including “black mould, bacteria, freezing cold temperatures in classrooms, rodent and insect infestations, exposed wiring, hazards that could lead to incidents of tripping, and falling debris to name a few.”
Patricia Hall, an elementary school teacher, claims students and staff have been complaining of “respiratory ailments, chronic fatigue, stomach pain, difficulty concentrating, and sore throats,” according to the suit, which says those symptoms are similar to exposure to black mould spores.
The suit also alleges it’s not just students’ health on the line, but also their emotional well-being.
“Several [teachers] commented how demoralising it was for students to be in an environment that needed so many repairs, pointing out the bullet-ridden windows that have not been replaced in years,” according to the complaint.
A counselor at DPS is quoted in the suit explaining that elementary students at her school are forced to walk around the hallways during their gym period because the gymnasium and playground are both unusable.
The suit echoes the claims DPS teachers and parents have been making since the start of the year. In the beginning of January, teachers and teacher organisations began posting photos on social media sites depicting conditions at the schools.
The images show various hazardous situations — from broken and rotting flooring to evidence of mice and moldy food that looks unsafe for consumption.
Business Insider has reached out to DPS and will update this post when we hear back.
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