The head of the Buffalo Teachers Federation is retreating from his vow to pursue legal action in order to enforce an agreement with the district that would have barred administrators from using two years worth of evaluations as grounds for firing a teacher.
In a statement released Friday evening, BTF President Philip Rumore announced that he will recommend that Buffalo teachers rescind their approval of the teacher evaluation agreement.
“Buffalo teachers only entered into an agreement on an unproved and untested teacher evaluation process because the superintendent, as did hundreds of other superintendents, agreed that the results would not be used against teachers,” Rumore said.
“The superintendent and [state] Department of Education have stated that they will not live up to the signed agreement, therefore I will recommend to teachers at our next Executive Committee and Council of Delegates meetings that we rescind our approval of the [Annual Professional Performance Review],” he added.
Rumore’s announcement came a day after Superintendent Pamela C. Brown announced in a written statement that the district would not honor the agreement because the state Education Department had determined that the deal made between the teachers union and the district was not a valid one.
Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday weighed in on the controversy, issuing his own statement in support of the decision made by the state Education Department.
“The state Education Department is correct in refusing to recognize any side deals between the Buffalo teachers union and the school district. The suggested collusion was a borderline legal and ethical fraud on our students, and the Buffalo superintendent was right to affirm that no side deals will be recognized. We promised the students performance. They deserve it and they will have it,” the statement read.
The state law allows districts – but does not explicitly require them – to pursue termination for any teacher who gets rated “ineffective” two years in a row. It also states that schools “shall” use the evaluations in employment decisions, including terminations.
Had the district and teachers union not relented on their deal, the district was in jeopardy of losing more than $50 million in state aid.