Torrington school officials look into teachers' sick day - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Torrington school officials look into teachers' Common Core sick day

(WFSB photo) (WFSB photo)

The public school system in Torrington was investigating whether nearly dozens of teachers called in sick on a day they were supposed to learn about the state's Common Core standards.

Officials said school was not in session at the time, but teachers were supposed to be in class anyway.

They said on a normal day, as many as 17 teachers call out. However, on Feb. 18, it was almost three times that.

In Connecticut, nearly 65 percent of students who graduate from high school were not prepared for college, according to the state. That's why school districts have been transitioning to "common core" standards, which were meant to better prepare students.

"I've seen my children go through several different curriculums in just the past 10 years and sometimes I think, why are we reinventing the wheel?" said Stephanie Fowler, a parent.

Teachers were supposed to be learning more about the standards on the date in question. School officials said they were looking into whether some were playing hooky.

"There was a Thursday that was a snow day, a Friday that was a snow day. Saturday, Sunday that are normal days off. Monday was Presidents Day, a holiday," explained Daniel Thibault, a member of the Torrington Board of Education.

However, the following Tuesday was the date officials were questioning.

"Fifty teachers, or a sixth of our teaching staff, called out for the day," said Thibault.

The district said teachers did not have to give a reason for calling out sick.

"It was a bit of a shock," Thibault said. "One of the key factors that teachers had in their last contract negotiations was that they needed more professional development days."

The district said only two teachers have made up the missed training. It said it was limited to any penalties it can impose on them.

The parents that spoke with Eyewitness News were split on whether some teachers deserved the day off.

"Knowing a lot of the teachers in the district, I think you have to take it on a case-by-case basis because we have excellent teachers here and most of them care about their jobs and kids," Fowler said.

"I can't understand why they wouldn't want to learn more," said Jennifer Teti, a parent.

The teacher's union was unavailable for comment.

The school board said it would continue its review during its meeting in April.

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