Detroit Federation of Teachers Executive Vice President Ivy Bailey has announced that charges have been filed against President Steve Conn.
A letter posted to the union website states Conn is responsible for “violations of the DFT constitution and bylaws and conduct detrimental to the union.”
It continues: “As is required by the DFT bylaws, I have scheduled conferences between President Conn and the members to attempt to resolve the matters. If there is no successful resolution, the DFT Executive Board will be asked to decide whether to hold a trial on the charges.”
Bailey has received numerous complaints from members stating that Conn had repeatedly attempted to cancel regular meetings, had failed to preside over them, had improperly called “special mass meetings,” and conducted meetings without agendas and without allowing members to speak, writes Ann Zaniewski for The Detroit Free Press.
“When a member was physically assaulted (an assault captured in a surveillance video and now the subject of a criminal charge), he refused to take action against the attacker, but instead publicly and libelously blamed the victim,” Bailey wrote, referring to an incident in which a Conn ally allegedly grabbed a woman in an attempt to take her cell phone.
In addition, it is alleged that Conn allowed the DFT to become affiliated with the civil rights group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) without receiving member authorization first, writes Shawn D. Lewis for The Detroit News.
Bailey also maintains that Conn had not paid dues owed by the DFT to the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and AFT Michigan.
In response to the accusations against him, Conn, who has held the position for about six months after winning the election in January, said it is “divisive, distracting and destructive.”
“This is a desperate bid by remnants of the old regime to get rid of me and return to the old ways of working hand in hand with the emergency manager,” Conn said. “Every time we’d rally, they’d send out emails to members telling them not to participate. So that didn’t work and now they’re trying this, which is terribly destructive.”
In order for him to be removed from his post, Conn said 1,000 signatures would be needed. After that, a mass meeting would need to be held in which two-thirds of the votes went against him. About 4,000 members are represented by the union, including teachers in Detroit Public Schools.
If a resolution cannot be reached at the hearing, the union’s executive board will decide whether or not to hold a trial.