Pugh calls mass teacher absences in Baltimore 'unconscionable'

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh on Thursday lambasted the city elementary school teachers who called in sick en masse last month to protest looming school budget cuts and layoffs.

“The negative impact we’ve had on our children is unconscionable,” Pugh said. “To stay home because you want to protest, not knowing if you’re going to have a job — and you have one today — is unconscionable.”

The criticism, leveled at teachers at Tench Tilghman Elementary on the city’s east side who effectively shut down the school for the day on Feb. 22, came during a wide-ranging keynote speech at a United Way of Central Maryland fundraising breakfast in a ballroom at the downtown Hyatt Regency Baltimore hotel.

The sick-out was widely condemned by parents, the school district and Baltimore Teachers Union.

In a statement released at the time, schools CEO Sonja Santelises said that she was “extremely disappointed that staff members may have chosen to express their anxiety about school budgets by disrupting teaching and learning for our students and compromising students’ access to the services and supports we provide in a safe, positive school environment.”

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