Metro Schools teacher, student speak out on ‘sick out’ protest

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More than a fifth of the teachers at Metro Nashville Public Schools didn’t show up to school on Friday.

Their absence was in protest of Mayor David Briley’s proposed budget, a three-percent increase in salary.

Teachers have repeatedly pushed for a 10-percent increase to adjust for cost of living.

Eleventh grader Isabella Dominguez was caught off guard when she arrived at school at McGavock High Friday morning.

“It’s just been awful,” said Dominguez. “I got there around 6:30 a.m. and we were all just walking around going ‘what’s happening?'”

Isabella was among many students who showed up to school, only to find a majority of their teachers absent — a so-called ‘sick out’ in response to the Mayor’s proposed budget.

“I was supposed to see four teachers altogether today and I only saw one,” said Dominguez.

The lack of staffing created confusion for students.

“We were informed by the second, as they were getting it all written out,” said Dominguez.

In total, Metro Schools reported 1093 teacher absences, the largest at McGavock High School with 125 – that means only 16 teachers showed up.

In a statement to News 2, a Metro Schools teachers who wanted to remain anonymous wrote us this statement:

“I don’t see it as a ‘sick out – this isn’t a statement from the teachers as much as it is a statement from the district that they have the teachers’ backs and that they will stand in our positions while we try to come to the understanding that we aren’t good enough that our students and their education isn’t good enough for the Mayor and city council to give us a quality of life here in Nashville. Where many teachers, like myself, have multiple jobs to make up for the cost of living in Davidson County.  Teachers are given $200 for the school year to buy instructional items for the students you teach. On average that’s about 80-100 kids. Take a look at the BEP system for MNPS. Ten-percent is to make up for the times we did not get our quality of life raises. I hope we can all stand together and ask our city government to help our children out and give teachers a chance to teach. Fully fund education here in the city of Nashville, hopefully the state and the country will follow suit. This is our chance as a city to stand behind our teachers and the future of Nashville.”

Isabella said she feels the impact, especially with end-of-year exams.

“The teachers not having enough time for their planning period, getting grades in, it just affects our grades and I’m about to be a senior and that matters for my college – that way I can be able to go,” said Isabella.

Isabella’s father Raymond said the protest serves as a learning lesson for his daughter.

“I want her to be here to support her teachers,” he said.

MNPS officials told News 2, 498 substitute teachers filled in on Friday, along with Central Office administrators and staff providing support.

Officials add school will be in session on Monday.

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