The Buffalo School Board on Wednesday granted tenure to 358 teachers – many of whom have been working in the district a decade or more – and, by doing that, took another step toward correcting years of problems in the district’s human resources office.
Generally, teachers receive tenure after teaching in a district for three years. But most of the teachers who received tenure Wednesday could hardly be considered rookies.
Scores of them have been working in the district for a decade or more, according to payroll records, and at least two have been working in the district since the mid-1980s.
Darren Brown, executive director of human resources, told the board that the unusual granting of tenure in large numbers was the result of his staff cleaning up employee files that had languished with technical errors for several years.
All of the 358 teachers had been recommended by their principal for tenure, he assured the board, however many years ago they became eligible for tenure – meaning each of them had been considered capable in the classroom.
But some paperwork glitch – such as the need for documentation of immunizations, for example – held things up in each case, causing the human resources office to mark the file to indicate it was awaiting some item.
Meanwhile, none of those teachers had technically received tenure from the board.
“So my office has gone through to clean up the files,” said Brown, who has been in charge of the human resources department for about a year.
This is the second time during the current school year that the board has been asked to grant tenure to an unusually large number of teachers. In the fall, Brown asked the board to grant tenure to scores of teachers whose three-year deadline for tenure had come and gone without any action by the district.
In such cases, those teachers automatically receive tenure by virtue of the district’s inaction; in Buffalo, Brown had asked the board to go on record to grant them tenure to clean up the paperwork, though the teachers technically had already been tenured.
In other business Wednesday, the board unanimously appointed Richard Thompson as director of state and federal programs, an office that oversees about $100 million a year in grant funds. He will be paid $80,883 a year.
Samuel L. Radford, president of the District Parent Coordinating Council, had urged the board not to approve the appointment. The parent group had representation on the interview committee, he said in a letter to board members, and the committee did not recommend that any of the candidates be hired.
“You know better than anyone else that this is a critical position. The termination of one of the last employees to fill this position and her admission that she was not prepared for such a responsibility seem to be validation for our expressed concerns,” he wrote in an email to board members, referring to Debbie Buckley, who was terminated in June, two years after being promoted to assistant superintendent overseeing that office.
Superintendent Pamela C. Brown referred questions about Thompson’s hiring to Darren Brown, who disputed Radford’s description of events.
The executive director of human resources said the interview committee had, in fact, recommended Thompson to the superintendent.
Thompson has worked in the district for several years, most recently as supervisor of staffing for budget, Darren Brown said. Before holding that position, he worked in the grants department and is familiar with various types of federal grant programs, including Title I, the anti-poverty funding.