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How impartial is the impartial hearing officer?

In the next two weeks or so, Buffalo school officials should be getting a decision from the district's April 26 hearing in Albany regarding the legality of the state's suspension of school improvement grants.

Albany hearingIn the three weeks since that hearing, plenty of people have been wondering why the impartial hearing officer was someone who works for Commissioner John KIng.

Sharon Cates-Williams, an associate commissioner, made $147,000 in the most recent year available through payrolls posted at seethroughny.net. She will be the person issuing a decision on what was essentially her boss' decision to suspend $5.6 million in school improvement grants to Buffalo.

When King was in town this week, Mike Desmond from WNED noted the skepticism surrounding the impartial hearing officer and asked King why an outside party had not been tapped for the job.

"That’s another attempt to distract from a very important question: Was the law followed -- yes or no?" King said. "The (evaluation) agreements submitted were inconsistent with the law. It’s a very straightforward question."

- Mary Pasciak

facebook.com/mary.pasciak     twitter.com/MaryPasciak    mpasciak@buffnews.com

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About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee | djgee@buffnews.com


Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes | tlankes@buffnews.com


Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone | stan@buffnews.com


Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB | dswilliams@buffnews.com

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