Teacher ‘sickout’ closes Detroit schools

A wave of teacher absences described by an activist as “rolling strikes” shut down more than half of Detroit’s 100 public schools Monday, keeping thousands of students at home as a “sickout” entered a second week.

A handful of high schools were forced to close last week as teachers called in sick. But the action Monday was more dramatic as more teachers stayed home.

Sixty-four of the district’s 97 schools were closed Monday morning, Detroit Public Schools spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski said.

The district, with 46,000 students, has been in turmoil, struggling with poor morale among staff members, millions of dollars in debt and families that have other school choices for their kids.

Ivy Bailey, interim president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, displayed photos of mold in schools. “This is why those sickouts happened,” she told reporters, adding that classes have too many students and rodents are plentiful.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) wants to pay off the debt and spin off a new district, but he lacks support in the legislature. There are no current negotiations between teachers and schools, which are run by a Snyder appointee, emergency manager Darnell Earley.

— From news services

Officer not indicted in black man’s death

A grand jury in Mississippi declined to indict a white police officer in the death of a black man, saying that the man died of asphyxiation after ingesting too much cocaine and that the officer did not use excessive force.

Stonewall officer Kevin Herrington stopped Jonathan Sanders, who was riding a horse and buggy, in July. The circumstances surrounding Sanders’s death were unclear at the time, prompting protests and allegations of police brutality.

Sanders had been dealing cocaine when he was stopped and swallowed the drugs, causing his death, Stonewall Police Chief Michael Street said. Herrington found a plastic bag of cocaine on Sanders while patting him down, and Sanders then snatched the bag and swallowed it, Street said. At that point, he said, the two men struggled.

However, an attorney for the Sanders family, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, called the grand jury’s decision “a miscarriage of justice” and said there had been “inconsistencies throughout the investigation process.”

Sanders had served time in prison for selling cocaine and was arrested for cocaine possession in 2015.

Herrington was a reserve police officer in Stonewall and was put on administrative leave during the grand jury investigation, officials said.

— Associated Press

Chief urges charges for officer in shooting

The Los Angeles police chief recommended criminal charges Monday against an officer who shot and killed an unarmed homeless man.

The decision came after investigators concluded that Brendon Glenn was on his stomach trying to push himself up when Officer Clifford Proctor shot the 29-year-old New York native in the back on May 5, police spokesman Lt. John Jenal said.

Investigators also found that Glenn wasn’t trying to take a gun from Proctor or his partner when he was shot. Proctor’s partner told investigators he didn’t know why the officer opened fire, Jenal said.

The officers were not wearing body cameras, but the shooting was captured on surveillance video. Police have declined to release the footage.

Jenal said Police Chief Charlie Beck made the recommendation on charges last month to Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey. She will decide whether to charge Proctor and does not have to follow Beck’s recommendation.

— Associated Press

Judge reduces bond for ‘affluenza’ teen’s mother: A Texas judge Monday slashed the bond required for a mother charged with helping her teenage son flee to Mexico after he was suspected of violating a probation deal that kept him out of prison following a fatal drunken driving crash. Judge Wayne Salvant cut the bond for Tonya Couch to $75,000 from the previous $1 million in the felony case accusing her of helping her son Ethan leave the country. The son was derided in 2013 for using a defense of “affluenza” in juvenile court, where he was charged with four counts of intoxication manslaughter. A psychiatrist testifying on his behalf contended that his family’s wealth impaired his judgment to tell right from wrong.

Circus to retire elephants earlier than planned: The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is ending its elephant acts a year and a half early and will retire all of its touring elephants in May. The move comes amid increasing scrutiny of circus elephant acts, with local governments passing “anti-circus” and “anti-elephant” ordinances in response to concerns over animal cruelty. The circus’s parent company, Feld Entertainment, said all of the iconic elephants will be permanently retired to the company’s 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation, between Orlando and Tampa. The company first announced in March that it would retire the full herd of elephants to the center by 2018.

— From news services