Sick or not sick?
That is the question plaguing the Compton Unified School District after epidemic “sickouts” have hit elementary and high school campuses across the city.
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The problem is exacerbated because students in Compton are prepping for standardized tests and a teacher strike appears imminent.
The sickouts come amid contract negotiations between disgruntled teachers and district officials.
The teacher's union President, Patrick Sullivan, insisted the sickouts were not staged by the union. He also said he was working during the first sickout.
NBC4 reported last week that more than 50 Dominguez High School teachers called in sick. On Thursday, at least 19 teachers did the same thing at McNair Elementary.
NBC4 learned, however, that Sullivan had called in sick.
District officials believe the sickouts were planned and will continue throughout labor contract negotiations.
The union denies it.
Compton School Board members, meanwhile, are demanding that the union and the district work out their issues so students are no longer affected.
"We're not going to tolerate this type of behavior," said Micah Ali, the Compton School Board president. "We can never recoup the education these children will lose if teachers continue to practice this behavior."
If it turns out the “sickouts” were planned, the union would be violating the bargaining agreement.
Luther Waters, the principal at Roosevelt Middle School, said the impasse could have an impact on student preparations for standardized tests that happen next week.
"There should never be a disruption of the school day," Waters said. "We're all in this for the same reason and ultimately it's student achievement."
They'll have four negotiations between April 7-14.