The state Education Department continues to find fault with Buffalo school district submissions. Monday, it informed the Buffalo Public Schools that the corrective action plan regarding student transfers “lacks sufficient detail” to be approved.
The state’s assistant commissioner for education, Ira Schwartz, stated in a letter Monday that Buffalo must resubmit a more detailed plan by Aug. 9 indicating how it intends to accommodate all families who wish to transfer their children from a low-performing city school to a school in good standing with the state.
In May, the department ruled that parents of students attending failing Buffalo schools have the right of transfer to schools in good standing, regardless of whether those schools have room to accommodate them.
The state demanded that the Buffalo district submit a corrective action plan by the end of June to ensure that all parents who want their children transferred out of a “focus” or “priority” school be granted their request.
The district responded June 28 with a seven-page plan to enable transfers to one of the district’s 12 schools in good standing.
While the district provided roughly half a dozen options that it would be “exploring” to accommodate all transfer requests, the information was considered to “lack sufficient detail in terms of goals, progress targets, activities, timelines, documentation and measurement strategies for the department to conclude that the BPS plan, if fully and effectively implemented, will bring the district into compliance.”
Barbara J. Smith, the district’s chief financial officer/chief operating officer, said the district will be able to provide a more complete action plan to the state after the district receives all transfer applications.
Smith spoke on behalf of Superintendent Pamela C. Brown, who has been out of the office since Friday.
The deadline for receiving parent applications is this Friday, but it appears the state wants the deadline to be extended to July 31. If that’s the case, the district would have seven working days to finalize and resubmit a revised plan.
Smith pointed out that the district had previously told the state about its plan to submit a revised plan after it received all parent applications.
Among the issues on which the state wants further detail are: how the district will inform and “empower” parents regarding their transfer rights, a detailed summary of how placements will be made, and a better explanation on how the district will increase the number of seats available in higher-performing schools.
“For example, only four (elementary) schools in Good Standing, according to your submission, do not have admission criteria,” the letter states. “At the high school level, there are no schools listed as options that do not have admission criteria.”
Samuel L. Radford III, president of the District Parent Coordinating Council, said his group will have an emergency meeting Wednesday evening to get more information on the state letter and clarify the application deadline for parents.
In other matters, the Buffalo Board of Education will hold a special meeting Thursday to discuss State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr.’s directive that Lafayette and East high schools partner with Erie 1 Board of Cooperative Educational Services to provide either vocational classes or leadership oversight for the two schools.