BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The Buffalo School District is getting a stern warning from New York State to address the failing schools - or else.
New York Education Commissioner John King is taking never-before-seen steps to fix the lowest performing high schools in Buffalo, by allowing students to either transfer away from the district, or allowing another group of educators to take over.
Since 2010, Lafayette High School's graduation rate had steadily decreased. In a three-year period, an already low 36 percent graduation rate fell even further to 21 percent in 2012. The story is the same at East High School. Their graduation rates also fell during that same time from 44 percent to 27 percent.
Commissioner King wrote a letter to Buffalo Superintendent Pamela Brown saying the School Improvement Grant Restart applications for both schools have been denied. King says for several years Buffalo Public Schools have failed to effectively implement the changes that are needed for the Restart grant at both schools.
"The situation at these schools, which continues to hurt hundreds of students, cannot continue," King said in the letter to Dr. Brown. He continued, "Far too many students have been left educationally abandoned"
Robert Bennett of the NYS Board of Regents said, "The details weren't there and the terms of the goals, the roles of the Central Office, the timetable, the hours of operation. There were a number of things that were missing from the applications."
Distinguished Educator Judy Elliott, who has been evaluating Buffalo schools, added "I still see it after a year being in the district, that the capacity to support schools and be responsive and be individualized about what these schools need, is still significantly lacking in the city."
King is essentially taking the power out of the school's hands. In an unprecedented move, students can choose go to classes outside of the district. According to King's letter, the district must either: allow students from Lafayette or East to attend classes at Erie 1 BOCES. Or to allow Erie 1 BOCES to take over the entire education program of the school, including staffing and curriculum.
If an agreement is not made between the schools and BOCES by August 12, both schools could be shut down.
Commissioner King will be sending officials from his office to Buffalo. News 4 reached out to Superintendent Brown for an interview, but she declined. We did receive a statement saying her staff is looking forward to upcoming discussions.
The statement also said, "I believe that out efforts since January have set the stage for positive achievement in both schools."
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