BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Teachers and students at Pinnacle Charter School have been in limbo just days before the start of school.
But now it appears the school won't close its doors after all. Though the school will no longer be Pinnacle Charter on paper, many of the same students and most of the same teachers will return in September. But now they will be under the direction of Buffalo Public Schools.
During a special meeting Thursday, the Buffalo School Board unanimously endorsed a plan that will see the Pinnacle Charter School become a Buffalo Public School.
Superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown said, "We have collaboratively come up with a solution to annex the existing Pinnacle Charter School with a school in the Buffalo school system and we think that is the least disruptive way to address the needs of the students."
The move allows the students to come to the same school and probably be taught by many of their old teachers from Pinnacle. Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore says me he has no problem with the plan. Rumore says about five laid off Buffalo teachers would have first crack at the teaching jobs there, but Pinnacle teachers can legally be hired by the Buffalo schools. Teachers will have to re-apply for their positions.
Darren Brown, Buffalo Schools Chief of Talent Management, said, "We have to interview teachers in order [for them] to work in the Buffalo Public Schools. We have no reason to say all of your teachers will not be working."
Although most teachers are expected to stay, a new principal will come in and most likely be the assistant principal of whichever Buffalo school Pinnacle is annexed to.
And not everyone is happy with the move.
Board Member Carl Paladino said, "What's sad is you had a failing charter school under state standards that now is being absorbed into a failing public school system, so the poor kids are going to have to suffer through all this."
What allowed this plan to move forward was another emergency meeting Thursday morning where the Pinnacle Charter School Board of Trustees agreed to stop fighting in court to try to reverse the state's decision to rescind this school's charter.
State Education Commissioner John King said, "The school challenged the Regents' actions in court. At each stage of the process, they've chosen to appeal decisions of the court. It finally came to a resolution last week with the legal decision vindicating the position of the Regents that the school would need to close and now the school no longer has a charter, so it can't open next week."
The opening of school will be delayed until September 9 for Pinnacle Charter, to work out the details of the transition. Thursday night, parents met during an emergency meeting and demanded answers about the future of the charter school. Many are angry that their children will now be part of Buffalo Public Schools, which is the exact opposite of what they wanted.
One angry mother shouted at Pinnacle trustees and State Education representatives, "You have no respect for us! You have no respect for our choices, or my kid! It's not right! You ought to be ashamed of yourself when you go home!"
Many parents are also upset that Pinnacle is going to end up working with a Priority or Focus school. But that arrangement does come with one built-in advantage.
Barbara Smith, Buffalo Schools Chief Financial and Operating Officer, said, "If you were to be designated a School in Good Standing, that would mean all of those students that are on that list to transfer would transfer in. So we're trying to avoid that."
Pinnacle trustee Pastor Alan Core added, "We're going to stay here together, as a family, and do what we've got to do to keep our children in a high performance. I believe, just because you live near muddy people, don't mean you don't take a bath."
After this academic year, families will need to come up with other arrangements for their children.
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