DPS cancels classes Friday, cites 'overwhelming staff absences'

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DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham Public Schools announced that there will be no school for students on Friday because of an "overwhelming number of staff absences."

Friday will be a teacher workday, DPS said. Athletics and afterschool extracurricular activities will operate as normal.

"Our entire transportation support staff has called out for tomorrow," a DPS spokesperson told ABC11.

The transportation support personnel are responsible for daily bus inspections, which are required by law before students can be transported.

Families expressed their disappointment about another unplanned day off from school on social media. Some home school parents even offered childcare for parents in need.

Rah'Shae Christopher is a student-athlete and graduating senior at South Durham High School for Energy and Sustainability. She said she would like to run track in college.

"Honestly, it's a little sad knowing that most of the teachers that I have had, you know, are going through this because... people have a life," she said. "People have a life outside of work and without work or pay... it's hard for them to live."

Christopher said that while she isn't worried about credits right now -she fears that if there are more days off it will make a difference later.

"I feel like they're going to push you back due to the fact that we haven't had those hours in those days. That we need certain classes... to succeed knowing that we're going to college...we need these classes that we're taking," she said.

Mother Latanya Smith said she has a tenth grader at Hillside High School who feels the same.

"At the end of the day, when it comes time for exams and testing, that could create a serious issue for the students because they have not received the proper tutelage to take them to the next level," she said.

Smith said she believes this is the time when leaders must come together to put children first.

"There should be a better way that our legislators in Raleigh as well as Durham, as well as the school board, they should all find a way to communicate and come together and figure out where are some federal dollars that possibly could be filtered in to help alleviate the stress and the problems," Smith said.

In the wake of Durham Superintendent Dr. Pascal Mubenga's resignation Wednesday night, some parents are bracing for what's next as the Durham pay issue persists.

"By him resigning, that leaves the teachers still in limbo," Charita Tabron said. "What's the resolve? Now it's going to take a little bit longer because the school board has to now not only find a replacement for him, but now they still have to resolve this (pay) issue."

Tabron's concerns come after the issue prompted several rounds of school shutdowns as DPS staff and teachers put pressure on the Board of Education to fix the ongoing matter.

"I'm concerned that the teachers are going to eventually get fed up and we're going to be back to remote learning at some point," Tabron said.

The Durham Association of Educators said some of the union's demands were met so far but the removal of Mubenga wasn't one of them, according to a statement.

"Although we understand why Dr. Mubenga resigned -- and district administration clearly must answer for keeping the Board of Education and the Durham community in the dark regarding the district's financial situation -- this was never one of our demands," the DAE said.

The union criticized the lack of transparency and said to rebuild trust between DPS workers and administration, a meet-and-confer policy is what they need where they can have a seat at the table the next time the Board meets.

The DAE said the Board scheduled a work session with them for Feb. 15.

"I am not pleased with what they've responded with so far, but I am pleased with the community," DPS teacher Tya Tyrrell said. "I'm pleased with the teachers and the people that I work for and us teachers, classified staff and families. We are DPS. It is not the Board of Education. It is not the Superintendent. It is us right here."

The DAE is still demanding the Board explain why January checks did not look like what they expected and keep February checks whole, including the promised raises, steps and years.

Durham Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Pascal Mubenga announced he is resigning from the district during a closed meeting Wednesday night.

Baggingit4Kids along with Changed Paths and Durham Fridges and Root Causes is putting together bagged lunches for families in need that will be available at community fridges across the city by noon.