FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Fort Wayne Community Schools will close schools on Tuesday – Red for Ed Day – as hundreds of teachers plan to rally in Indianapolis.

In a letter to staff members obtained by WANE 15, district Superintendent Dr. Wendy Robinson said “the number of teachers requesting to take the day off have grown to the point where I no longer feel we can safely educate our students.” More than 500 teachers had requested personal days to attend the rally for educational resources at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis.

Public Information Officer for FWCS Krista Stockman says the closing comes after hearing more teachers will be calling in sick the day of the rally.

“Our first choice is never to cancel school. And I think anybody that watches us when there’s bad weather, knows that. If we can have school, we want to have school. We want kids to be in our buildings learning,” says Stockman.

Fort Wayne Education Association says it isn’t surprised the district decided to cancel class. It says its thankful for the parent and community support its received.

“Really the main thing is we need to get public education back on in Indiana, because we’ve had 10 years of some anti-public education legislation that have been really harmful, it’s been harmful to all the kids in the state,” says Sandra Vohs, president of FWEA.

A make-up day will be held March 13.

Below is the full letter:

November 15, 2019

Dear Staff Members:

As long as I have been superintendent, I have been the first to support teachers and fight for the needs of our students at the Statehouse. As a District, we have pursued federal grants to provide pay increases for teachers when state funding would not suffice. We have had to make difficult decisions, at times, but in Fort Wayne Community Schools, we have worked together in our common mission: Educating all students to high standards enabling them to become productive, responsible citizens.
When the Red for Ed Rally was first brought to our attention weeks ago, we worked with the Fort Wayne Education Association to create a plan for teachers to attend the rally and still maintain enough teachers in our buildings to hold school. This event and the number of teachers requesting to take the day off have grown to the point where I no longer feel we can safely educate our students on Tuesday, Nov. 19. Therefore, school will not be in session on that day.
The District will remain open, as will school offices. Employees who work only when students are present will not work on Nov. 19. Others are expected to report to work as usual. (See the attached guidance if you are not sure if you are supposed to work.) Our make-up day will be Friday, March 13.
Beyond Tuesday, I ask you to think about what kind of action you will take to ensure this is not just a one day event. What will you do between Nov. 20, 2019, and Nov. 3, 2020, to create a long-lasting change? The State did not reach this point with public education overnight, and it won’t be fixed in a day. There has been a long, concerted effort to systematically dismantle public education through standardized testing, constantly changing accountability systems and pouring money into private schools. We have been sounding the warnings for years. To change things now will require just as much planning and effort, if not more. True change will only come through legislative action, and that won’t happen if the same people continue to have control of the rule book. While I appreciate your passion for Tuesday’s rally, don’t let it end there.
As you are well aware, there are many state and federal seats up for election in 2020. The presidential campaign may receive the most attention, but on this issue, it is not the most important. Take a look at how your state representatives have voted when it comes to funding public education and supporting teachers. You might be surprised at how the people you voted for may say the right things in mailers or commercials or even to your face but vote the other way.
When educators band together for a cause, they can make a difference. Look at the 2012 election for State Superintendent of Public Instruction: A change was made because educators and friends of educators banded together. It can happen again, but only if you carry on what you start on Nov. 19.

Dr. Wendy Y. Robinson

The following letter was sent to parents:

The Red for Ed Day rally is set for Tuesday at the Indiana Statehouse – just as legislators return in session to organize for the upcoming General Assembly. The Indiana State Teachers Association has invited teachers to wear red and flood the Statehouse to show lawmakers that students, educators, and public schools need to be a top priority.