Statement by Detroit Federation of Teachers Interim President Ivy Bailey on the social media threat made against the teachers and principal of Cass Technical High School.
The writer threatened to take action on Friday, March 4. At the request of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, an emergency meeting was held Thursday, March 3 with Detroit Public Schools officials, Cass Tech employees and school leadership, parents, and law enforcement authorities to discuss the grave and violent threat made against Cass Tech teachers and the principal:
“The DFT has an unwavering commitment to the health and safety of our members, our students, their families and the Detroit community, and today’s actions reflect that commitment. During a meeting with DFT members, parents and the community, newly named DPS Transition Manager Steven Rhodes announced that Cass Technical High School would be closed on Friday because of the safety concerns expressed by Cass teachers, staff, students and families. We believe this is an appropriate and necessary response to the situation; safety is being put first, as it should be. We are pleased the DFT was able to amplify the voices of our members, students and their families who felt ignored and unheard.”
In response to the Cass Technical High School threat, Rhodes issued this statement: “After a recommendation from Cass Technical High School Principal Lisa Phillips and DPS Police Chief Stacy Brackens, and in cooperation with the leadership of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, I have made the decision to close Cass Technical High School on Friday, March 4, 2016. Also, in partnership with the DFT, I held a meeting at Cass with interested parents and teachers to discuss their concerns about recent threats involving their school and to let them know that the District would be conducting a thorough review of its threat response protocols and procedures. I also asked for volunteers to participate in this process, which will be conducted with all urgency. In the meantime, the investigation into this week’s social media threat is ongoing and anyone who is found to be responsible for this unlawful action will be prosecuted to the fullest extent under Federal Cyber Security/Terrorism laws.”
DFT continued in a written statement, “Rhodes has agreed to work with the union, educators and parents on immediately developing a review team to examine how school safety issues are handled, how DPS and schools should communicate about safety concerns, and what protocols for transparency should be in place. We hope that convening this working group will bring us one step closer to creating a more open, transparent and honest dialogue around the safety of our schools.
“While the threat against Cass Tech is highly unfortunate, it did show that when the union and school management work together, we can serve the best interests of our students, our educators and our community.”