It's disconcerting to see how much incorrect information is floating out there today regarding the situation on Buffalo's deadline for submitting a teacher evaluation plan to Albany.
Channel 7 reported that the district had to submit a plan by the end of Thursday. Channel 2 reported that the teachers would be voting today on a plan. So did Channel 4.
Here's what I know:
- The district had a hearing scheduled for Thursday regarding the suspension of its school improvement grant funds. (That was after the district had requested an adjournment from its original hearing date in February.)
A State Education Department official told me that the rescheduled hearing could be held no later than March 23. "Buffalo's hearing was originally scheduled for 2/22; however, Buffalo requested an adjournment. Our hearing procedures explain that 'in no event shall the hearing be postponed or rescheduled more than 30 days from the date of the first scheduled hearing date.' Per those procedures, the hearing has to be rescheduled on or before 3/23," Dennis Tompkins wrote to me on March 2.
Nevertheless, State Ed granted Buffalo a one-week extension, scheduling the hearing for March 29.
- The purpose of the hearing is to give the district an opportunity to make the case that the state violated a federal or state law or regulation when it suspended the SIG funds.
The opportunity for the district to resolve its teacher evaluation agreement is prior to that hearing -- not during the hearing.
Here is what the state regulations governing hearing procedures for the suspension of federal school improvement grant funds say: "The parties are strongly encouraged to resolve the issues causing the suspension of SIG funding prior to the hearing. A district may submit evidence to the Office of Innovative School Models that it has cured its SIG grant award deficiencies on or before four business days before the scheduled hearing. No further submissions will be considered by that office after that time." [emphasis added by SED, not by me]
By my count, four business days before a hearing next Thursday would put the deadline today.
- Keep in mind, these are the same state regulations that the State Education Department ignored when it granted Buffalo a one-week extension on its hearing. They outline a process for requesting an adjournment, but then state: "In no event shall the hearing be postponed or rescheduled more than 30 days from the date of the first scheduled hearing date."
Which, of course, was what Tompkins cited in explaining to me that Buffalo's hearing could be held no later than March 23.
Obviously, the state set those rules aside with regard to the hearing.
Will state officials decide to hold fast to the deadline for submission of a revised teacher evaluation plan? That remains to be seen.
- In one of my most recent conversations with BTF President Phil Rumore, he said anything related to teacher evaluations would have to go to the teachers for a vote.
Teachers tell me they will be voting on the evaluation agreement on Tuesday.
Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.
- Mary Pasciak