Some sort of strange bug struck Helena-West Helena teachers Tuesday but almost no one was talking about it.

 

Some sort of strange bug struck Helena-West Helena teachers Tuesday but almost no one was talking about it.
The Daily World received word that as many as 85 percent of the Helena-West Helena School District teachers called in sick. The “sick out” comes following Superintendent Willie Williams and the district’s school board voted to send out letters of non-renewal status of all district employees and to rehire them at a three percent reduction in salaries. The district previously had a reduction in force in which 120 employees lost their jobs.
At Eliza Miller Junior High, students were sent to the gymnasium instead of their usual classes. Math and language arts classes and some physical education classes were rotated during the day.
“We don’t have the ratio of staff for the number of students right now,” stated a source that chose to remain anonymous.
“Students were able to go home to concerned parents but the school stayed open,” reported Monica McMurray, Miller principal. “We typically have about 35 to 40 members on staff daily, today there were only 6 or 7 here.”
Similar reports came from other schools in the district.
One parent called The Daily World expressing her concern for security reasons.
“Something has got to be done for our schools,” she said. “This is ridiculous.”
Teachers and educational staff members met at the National Guard Armory late Tuesday afternoon to discuss a plan of action. A Daily World reporter was not allowed to attend the session.
A special school board session was called Tuesday evening but it was rumored that the issue would not be addressed. Superintendent Williams did not immediately return phone calls to the Daily World.
It was reported that a personal grievance has been filed against the superintendent for creating a hostile work environment but that had not been confirmed by press time.
There has been no report as to when the teachers and staff plan to return to work.