Sacré bleu — or perhaps more fittingly, as Benny Hill used to put it, Sacred blue! When Houston Independent School District got into a dispute with a French teacher of 25 years’ experience, they removed him from the classroom … but not from the class record. Rather than replace Jean Cius with another qualified teacher of le Français, they hired a teacher who spoke only one word of Frenchbonjour.

At least the kids are learning how to Google (via Stephen Green at Instapundit):

The teacher, Albert Moyer, said in a brief phone interview that the extent of his French education was just one year in high school. So why was he hired? To replace Jean Cius, a certified French teacher for more than 25 years.

“It makes me extremely mad,” Cius said. “I feel bad for the fact that the kids are not learning.”

Records show after a dispute in December, the school’s principal removed Cius from campus. But when he was later declared fit for duty, HISD did not give him back his old job, or any teaching job for that matter. Cius was sent to another HISD campus, where he said he was assigned to monitor the halls.

“I feel so bad for the taxpayers because they’re paying me for not doing anything at all,” he said.

Energy Institute High never informed parents that Cius had been removed, or that an unqualified teacher had replaced him. They kept Cius as the teacher of record until after KHOU began asking questions about the arrangement, at which point they finally notified parents that the teacher knew less French than the kids.

Left unexplained in this is the reason for Cius’ removal. KHOU didn’t dig into that issue very far, only noting that whatever the dispute had been, Cius had been certified to return to the classroom. Perhaps there are good reasons to keep Cius out of the business of teaching French, but the district doesn’t appear to want to make that case publicly, and certainly haven’t done so with the parents. The school promises to hire a qualified replacement, but still has no explanation of why a teacher with one year’s education in a foreign language is wasting their children’s time.

That might still beat the explanation given for an illegal “sickout” that closed most of Detroit’s public schools today. The teachers union wants the state to bail out the school district, but the legislature has only produced an additional $48 million thus far, which pays salaries through June 30th. Lawmakers are still working on a longer-term fix, but that’s not good enough for the union:

“There’s a basic agreement in America: When you put in a day’s work, you’ll receive a day’s pay,” Detroit Federation of Teachers Interim President Ivy Bailey said in a statement. “DPS is breaking that deal. Teachers want to be in the classroom giving children a chance to learn and reach their potential.

“Unfortunately, by refusing to guarantee that we will be paid for our work, DPS is effectively locking our members out of the classrooms.”

Ahem. First, the school year ends before June 30th, so the union wants a guarantee of pay while teachers largely don’t work, especially since the judge overseeing the bankruptcy has already made clear that there will be no funds for summer school. On top of that, teachers will end up getting paid for their “sickout,” which means they’re getting paid for not working. Nor is this the first sickout this year, in which teachers end up getting paid for not working. At least students in Houston have a place to go to not learn French.