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Nine Phoenix-area schools close for ‘sick-out’ teacher protest

(Twitter Photo/@lennieforsenate)

PHOENIX — Nine Phoenix-area schools kept the lights off Wednesday after a slew of teachers called in sick to protest at the State Capitol.

A spokeswoman for the 12-school Pendergast Elementary School District told KTAR News 92.3 FM that Copper King, Westwind and Rio Vista elementary schools remained open during the protest.

The spokeswoman originally said 10 schools were closed. The decision to keep Rio Vista open was made after her initial discussion with KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Parents whose children would be affected by the closures were contacted via robocall. The teachers were not expected to be punished.

Mark Smith, a teacher at Villa de Paz Elementary School in Phoenix, said his colleagues were sick of being treated poorly and were getting ready to make demands.

“The truth of the matter is we are shutting down the school for our kids,” he added.

The district is located in the West Valley.

Word about the protest began spreading Tuesday night.

Noah Karvelis, an organizer with Arizona Educators United — an advocacy group that argues for teacher pay increases — originally said three schools were going to close because of the protest.

“They decided on [Wednesday] because there is going to be an assembly for #RedForEd at the capitol [Wednesday],” he told Mac & Gaydos.

Arizona Educators United was the organization behind the protest at KTAR News’ studios during Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s visit last week.

The group did not plan this week’s demonstration.

The group also kicked off the #RedForEd silent protest, in which educators and supporters wear red to show support for the state’s teachers and to demand schools be fully funded.

KTAR News’ Kathy Cline contributed to this report.

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