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CPS parents: Prepare for three Fridays off in a row

CPS CEO Forrest Claypool | Ashlee Rezin/For the Sun-Times

Turns out that Chicago Public School students won’t just get Good Friday off for an unpaid furlough day, or April 1 should the Chicago Teachers Union in fact walk off the job.

A previously planned teacher training day set for April 8 means CPS parents are going to have to find something else for their kids to do three Fridays in a row.

CPS, which about a week ago announced three sudden unpaid furlough days including Friday March 25, sent a letter to parents Wednesday blaming the CTU for “an illegal, one-day strike” on April 1.

That’s when the Chicago Teachers Union is asking teachers to walk off the job and march downtown at the afternoon rush hour.

“To explain this divisive action, CTU president Karen Lewis asked teachers and families to think of this one-day strike as an ‘extra holiday,” read the letter signed by CEO Forrest Claypool and Janice Jackson, chief education officer. “To understand all your options on April 1, we encourage you to speak with your childcare provider and employer to create any necessary contingency plans.”

The letter did not mention either the furlough day on the Friday before nor the planned training the Friday after. A broke district that’s scraping together enough cash to make a giant pension payment in June said the three unpaid furloughs would save some $30 million. Officials have defended the choice March 25 saying that thousands of teachers and students already planned to take a long Easter holiday weekend, so classes already were going to be disturbed.

It has repeated that “April 1 is a school day, and CPS expects students and parents to be in classrooms.”

The CTU shot back saying they were meeting Wednesday to finalize plans for April 1st. “Unlike CPS, we will take into consideration all of the impact areas. Some things are not popular but they may prove morally correct. No final decision has been made,” spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin said.

CPS also informed its teachers in a letter that anyone who calls out sick or suddenly uses a personal day on April 1 needs proof of illness from a doctor or proof of an emergency or they will not be paid.

“Fraudulent use of benefit time is dishonest and violates CPS’ disciplinary rules,” it wrote. “Employees who do are subject to discipline.”