In January of this year, eight teachers at the Universal Academy – a for-profit charter school in Detroit – were fired without being given a reason. However, as is well-documented in a Metro Times article titled, “Begging for answers: Eight teachers were just fired from a Detroit charter school without cause or notice”, six of the teachers had spoken at a school board meeting about problems they saw at the school. It seemed very clear to them that this is why they were being fired:
“I am struggling to understand how this incredibly bright, hard-working student who fully deserves a diploma from Universal Academy can be removed so suddenly from her education,” [teacher Asil] Yassine wrote in a Nov. 14 email to Nawal Hamadeh, the superintendent of the school and CEO of Universal Academy’s management company, Hamadeh Educational Services.
“Could you please send me a copy of the federal or state law or HES board policy that describes why this student is too old to stay in school?”
Yassine says she received no response.
As she’d soon learn, this lack of transparency is a norm.
Three months later, on Feb. 12, Yassine was one of eight teachers who were fired, via email, from Universal Academy.
Just as she never received answers from Hamadeh as to why Etab was pushed out, she and the other teachers who were fired have yet to find out why they were let go. They have suspicions, sure — six of the eight teachers who were terminated attended a board meeting on Jan. 26, where they tried to draw attention to problems they believed were adversely affecting the school culture and students. But, nothing could be confirmed. Their termination letters simply reiterated that they were hired at-will and could be terminated “at any time, with or without cause, and with or without notice.”
The teachers filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Review Board which is now investigating.
Tonight, teachers and community members are holding a rally to support and demand justice for the eight teachers who were apparently fired for the audacious act of trying to protect school children in their care. After the rally, the teachers and supporters will attend the school’s board meeting 6:30 p.m. They will be demanding that the board pass a resolution to ensure teachers’ voices are protected in the future.
Here are the details if you wish to join them:
WHEN: TODAY — Tuesday, May 24, 5:30 p.m.
WHERE: 6919 N Waverly St., Dearborn Heights, Michigan 48217
WHO: Teachers, parents, and community members