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DPS sues union over sub issue

The Detroit Public Schools system has filed an unfair labor practice against the district's teachers' union over a substitute teacher dispute.

The president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers issued a letter to some substitutes last month telling them to stop drafting lesson plans, grading students, and holding parent-teacher conferences.

"It sounds pretty much like babysitting to me," said DPS spokesman Steven Wasko. "I don't have a child, but I assume the going rate for babysitting is lower than the disputed daily cost for these substitute teachers, and perhaps we'd be better off getting babysitters, and save a few dollars."

But DFT President Keith Johnson suggests the man in charge of the school system, Robert Bobb, is using substitutes to save money.

"Maybe he's withholding placing a certified teacher in that class in the name of saving a dollar," he said. "Well, you're not going to do that at the expense of my members."

A spokesman for Detroit Public Schools says the district has aggressively looked for certified teachers for all its classrooms. But he says there's still a shortage in some areas.

Contact Sarah Hulett at sarahhu@umich.edu

Sarah Hulett is Michigan Public's Director of Amplify & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.