Parents aren’t happy that teachers are threatening to call out sick

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The 'Red Apple Virus' may keep Shelby County teachers at home, and parents aren’t happy.

Teachers told the school board they’re not making enough money and haven’t had a raise in three years, and said they may stage a sickout.

Parents we spoke to are frustrated. They say it-s wrong for teachers to call out sick just because they're not getting the money they feel they deserve.

“I don't think it's right to let the children suffer from that because education is still important because you took a vow as a teacher to teach,” parent Roger Jones said.

Jones said he isn't sure if there's much hope for Shelby County's schools or his son's education. He also said he thinks it's unfair that some teachers are threatening to stay home and stage a sick out.

“It's just kind of like giving up, and that's a bad example to send to our children, especially when we need them in school more than ever,” he said.

Some people who support teachers getting a raise used Facebook to get the message out. One person wrote, "I support you 100 percent."

Another wrote, "Teachers deserve more than they are getting and they deserve more respect."

WREG asked the school district what happens if teachers call out sick. Officials said they have no comment at this time, but did say so far, there's no record of increased teacher absences.

Some parents think this sends the wrong message to their children.

“I think that that's stupid really,” said Treniecee Lipford.

Lipford said she believes the district could be heading in the wrong direction if teachers go through with this.

“I don't know what the outcome will be but it might not be that good because our kids are already behind,” she said.

The superintendent sent the following letter to teachers last week:


We are now three weeks into the new school year, and I just want to take a moment to recognize and thank you for your role in making this one of our smoothest starts in recent memory. I know that no single person or factor impacts the achievement of our students more than a teacher. The State's release of some remarkable school level achievement and growth data this week was yet another reminder of how hard you work.

Over the past few weeks, I've had the opportunity to meet with groups of teachers and hear from many of you individually. Talking with you and hearing your feedback is something I appreciate greatly and remain very committed to. I think it's important to maintain a two-way dialogue so that I and my team at central office can make informed decisions about how to support you as individuals, as well as support your schools.

Some of you have expressed concern recently about the timing of teacher retention bonuses, and I am happy to report that these will be paid on the first paycheck in October. I know that the last year has been incredibly challenging, so I was very happy that our Board supported our decision to provide bonuses for all teachers who remained with Shelby County Schools in 2014-15. For the large majority of teachers, the bonuses are higher than a traditional step increase. In addition to the bonuses, all teachers will be receiving the first of two $100 payments in October to be used for instructional supplies in the classroom.

I have also listened to many teachers and other employees over the past year who said the cost of health benefits was a difficult burden. In response, I directed staff to analyze the issue and work diligently to find a solution that benefits employees. This year, as you may know, our budget is structured in a way that the District is now absorbing more of the cost for health benefits so that you are paying less for your premiums.

Before closing, I would like to thank those of you who collaborated on the development of the new TEM 4.0. I know that teams of teachers met more than a dozen times dating back to early spring, and I believe this strong feedback helped us take a real leap forward with this year's rubric. I'm looking forward to my next meeting with teachers regarding TEM 4.0 next month, and I'm interested in hearing more from you on this as we move through the rest of the school year.

Please know that in my commitment to the students of this District, I always recognize the invaluable role you play. I aim to be as supportive and responsive as possible and, therefore, appreciate all of my interactions with you.

I wish you the best the rest of this school year and thank you for your hard work every day.


Dorsey Hopson II, Esq.


  • Elwood Suggins

    Those in favor of the raises should send in a little extra to the city when they pay their taxes. And specify that the extra is to help cover the raises. Problem solved.

  • Teacher

    The state, not Shelby County Schools, gives teachers $200 every year for classroom supplies, so that is nothing new. However, most schools ask teachers to sign over at least $100, if not all of it, to pay for copy supplies. It is not right for teachers to work as hard as they do and not be able to pay all of their bills, while board members take money that was meant for teachers to raise their salaries!

    • babalu

      Time to change the board not make the students pay for their mistakes. Take the high ground. Show the kids the “right” thing to do even if the Board doesn’t know what that is. I have not had a raise in more than 3 yrs. In fact, I can’t even remember when the last time I got a raise. My insurance has increased dramatically and I work 12 months out of the year. I don’t get spring, fall, winter, and summer breaks.

  • Sally Smith

    This is ridiculous. The group that has made the news for this is VERY SMALL. I think they could stay home and no one would miss them. I’ll bet they are just a bunch of fools who are disgruntled about bad evaluations. Yes, the school system has lots of problems, but those people are very fortunate to have jobs. I wish I had been a teacher. Life seems a lot better for them than for the general population. Enough of the drama, grandstanding, and whining! And shame on the news stations for inflating the influence of this little group.

    • Just Saying, too

      You are welcome to come and sub for a week. :) Let’s see how long you last. I have a feeling that you’ll blow exhaust all over our school buses as you peel from the lot.

  • Mckennzie

    The children aren’t learning any way, nobody should get a raise until the schools are brought up to part.

    • Another Teacher

      And maybe parents shouldn’t take the federal child tax credit if they don’t take an active role in their children’s education. (Thought I’d throw in the same kind of silly comment that you did) Too many parents send their children to school without knowing basic skills…name, age, etc. This creates learning gaps from the onset that some kids are NEVER able to close.

      It is absolutely neglectful that some of these complaining parents can’t take a few minutes out of their day to ensure that their child learn basic communication skills; yet, they are willing to blame teachers for failing children. YOU are your child’s first teacher. What a joke!

  • Arguenot

    Did I miss something, or, in that letter from the Superintendent, did he not mention they would be getting retention bonuses in October that would equate to a raise in salary?
    Also mentioned was a lowering of insurance costs.
    Look around, those 2 increases alone put these teachers miles ahead of the average (non-elected) government worker.

    • Another Teacher

      Yes, he did say that, but teachers really won’t notice this so-called bonus. After taxes, pension, etc, most teachers won’t see it. I taught in another state and they did the same thing. I was given a BONUS (sarcasm) of about $200. After taxes, pension, and mandatory money set aside for additional healthcare/daycare/adult care, I received about $23. It may be a little more in TN as our federal/state tax payments were complicated, but it will not be equivalent to a raise by any stretch of the imagination. Mr. Hopson’s response sounds good and looks good on paper, but it only really fills half a gas tank to get you back to the school house.

  • Tim Warren

    Being a former teacher myself, I know the burdens they face. I know that I usually spent $100-200.00 Dollars a month on supplies for my classroom. I know the discipline problems these Teachers face on a day to day basis. I agree that Teachers are underpaid and will never be paid enough to have kids curse them, hit them, spit on them, run around the classroom attacking other kids, etc. Those are all of the challenges that I faced alone, as my administrator refused to step up to the plate. However, Memphis City Schools dissolved and became no more. At that point, Shelby County Schools took over. Shelby County schools has a zero tolerance policy and truthfully they were doing quite well on their own. But they were forced to take over the city schools. I am okay with that. Then, Memphis City Schools came back and wanted to RUN the Shelby County School system. Now that was incredibly stupid in my opinion. They couldn’t handle their own school system so they decided to try to run someone else’s? I worked for MCS, so don’t get me wrong on that. We never should have let them try to take over. But they did. So we move along. Now, we are faced with raises. No, teachers don’t get paid enough and never will. But the police and firemen, haven’t been paid a raise in 5 years and have taken cut after cut. They save lives, run into fires, haul people from mangled vehicles, tend to gunshot and stab wounds, chase bad guys, etc. And their sick time, vacation time, benefits, pension, healthcare are being stripped away from them so that the City’s leaders can buy a worn down, dead Raleigh Springs mall to renovate for ??? who knows; along with the Sears Tower, where Conrad stands to make Millions off the deal himself; to having empty, useless: parking garages in Midtown, Peabody Place mall and garage, the Pyramid, and the Redbirds Stadium. Why? because of back room deals and the Council members and Mayor are making money off of them. not to mention, they want to up the risks in the investments of the pension fund to place 10% in REAL ESTATE deals. OH! if the investment doesn’t make money, then it is a loss and the city is NOT responsible to have to repay it. Again, it seems that the Teachers actually have it FAR better than the police, fire, and City workers do. They have a LOT to be Thankful for. They have a pension in the State Retirement and great benefits, as well as two months vacation every summer, which are paid for. So, no, I do not pity them. Though I know what it is like living paycheck to paycheck. They have great healthcare and I may be losing mine here shortly, regardless of what the MAYOR claims. Take Care and GOD BLESS! ~Betsy Warren

  • Cityisajoke

    You get what u pay for. Period. Who gives a hoot about what kind of message it sends to YOUR children. Some of u people seems to not understand people didn’t go to college and get a higher education just because. Yeah everybody know education is important but what message are they sending if u do your part, u don’t get compensated for it!!!?????A person’s lively hood comes first before anything and anyone. Plus….would u really want a disgruntled person teaching your child??? Really????. Pay up!!!!! Hold these thieves accountable. …. the money is going SOMEWHERE

  • Cityisajoke

    And whether u think its stupid or not….this is the real world (good and bad). I don’t think a person alive can tell their mortgage company….I can’t pay this month because I’m teaching children for free! Lucky to have a job??? I think your child is lucky that someone is even willing to take the time to teach them cause lord knows a LOT of you are not teaching any thing at home. Let’s be real..that profession along with police and fire are slowing becoming so undesirable. People are getting sick of the bull. They don’t need a letter telling them they’re appreciated. They need a sustainable income. That’ll let them know how appreciated they really are.

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