DETROIT — Police arrested nine protesters who tried to prevent school buses from leaving their terminals on Detroit Public Schools’ second day of summer classes.
The protesting began the previous day, when two picketers were arrested and nearly all the buses were blocked from leaving for their runs.
Arrests on the following day included two at the district’s west-side transportation facility and seven at its east-side facility. Police also cleared a path for buses to leave at least one of the terminals, though some drivers said they left too late to get children to school.
Dale Goby, executive director of transportation for Detroit Public Schools, said attempts to block the buses continued until the end of the week and were as extensive as placing chains and padlocks on bus yard exit gates.
Personnel at the transportation department, which runs about 200 buses during the summer, used a cutting torch to free the gates after bolt cutters failed.
Goby said that the protest was mainly about layoffs caused by the district’s projected budget deficit and not about transportation.
“Very few transportation employees and no bus drivers have been laid off,” he said. “[The picketers] believe they found a valuable department to try to block to get parent and media attention.”
According to the Detroit Free Press, the picketers included civil rights activists, union members and workers who had lost their jobs because of the school budget cuts. The district has reportedly eliminated more than 2,000 positions in an attempt to avoid budget deficits for the current and following school years.