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Published in Print: September 11, 2002, as Court Halts Demotion of Detroit 'Master Teachers'

Court Halts Demotion of Detroit 'Master Teachers'

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A dispute between the head of Detroit's public schools and an administrators' union reached a new level of heat late last month, when a judge temporarily barred district Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Burnley from reassigning nearly 400 administrators to classrooms.

At the end of the 2001-02 school year, the administrators, also known as "master teachers," were notified that their contracts would not be renewed, and that they would be offered teaching positions instead. But that switch came with a significant pay cut, said Diann Woodard, the president of the Organization of School Administrators and Supervisors, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO.

As classes began in Detroit this school year, many of the 391 administrators were still waiting for assignments or were beginning to teach, Ms. Woodard said. But on Aug. 29, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge John H. Gillis put in place a temporary injunction halting the reassignments. A follow- up hearing was scheduled for Sept. 6.

Stan Childress, the communications director for the 167,000-student school district, said last week that he could not comment on pending litigation.

The administrators' union and Mr. Burnley have been feuding for months. In another lawsuit pending against the district, the union contends that meetings which under the law should have been open to the public had instead been held behind closed doors, Ms. Woodard said.

On Labor Day, about 80 administrators marched past Mr. Burnley's office chanting and holding a sign urging the schools chief to "stop the union busting now, put children first."

Vol. 22, Issue 2, Page 3

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