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Video: Hamburg parent outraged over showing of 'Psycho' murder scene in class

Hamburg parent Terry Dunford is very angry that a special-education teacher showed murder scene from movie "Psycho" to his daughter and her classmates in school.

Common Core concerns continue to dominate education forums

Concern over the state's implementation of Common Core curriculum standards continues to dominate public forums on Education Commissioner John B. King Jr.'s listening tour.

The Daily Voice of Yonkers and the Journal News of Westchester County report that hundreds of people attended the second event Monday night at Port Chester Middle School. Of the roughly 70 people who spoke during the three-hour event, most were critical, according to the Journal News account.

The Daily Voice reported that among the speakers were school board members and superintendents concerned about the impact on their districts.

Continue reading "Common Core concerns continue to dominate education forums" »

Reluctant parent speaks out regarding alleged forgery

A few weeks can make a big difference. Earlier this month, The News learned that a parent believed the principal at Harvey Austin School 97 had forged her signature on the school's Comprehensive Education Plan, an annual school improvement plan that every Buffalo public school must submit to the state because the Buffalo school district has such a high percentage of schools in bad standing with the state.

At that time, parent Timekia Jones had confronted the principal but asked that she and the principal be left unidentified since Jones wanted to keep a low profile and had a previously good working relationship with the principal, Brigette Gillespie. She subsequently filed an affidavit regarding the alleged forgery as part of a larger complaint by the DPCC to State Ed about parents not being involved in school turnaround plans, but declined to speak with reporters. We still wrote about the matter and posted her affidavit, along with examples of the alleged forgery, on the School Zone blog.

Jones changed her mind about speaking out, however, after she said Gillespie changed her schedule on Monday to make it difficult for her to stay involved as a parent at her school, where she has two daughters with special needs. That's when she said she wanted to take further action.

Continue reading "Reluctant parent speaks out regarding alleged forgery" »

Asking the state ed commissioner to intervene (or resign)

On Thursday, Buffalo's District Parent Coordinating Council stated that it's filing legal appeals with State Ed Commissioner John King to force the school district to comply with state physical education and health education requirements.

Also on Thursday, Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore said his executive committee would be voting on a motion calling for King's resignation, in the wake of the controversies surrounding the state's implementation of Common Core Standards testing.

While King is unlikely to raise an eyebrow regarding the BTF's call for his resignation, he is much more likely to take notice of the legal appeal asking that he force the district to comply with state laws requiring students to receive far more physical education than they are actually getting in school.

Continue reading "Asking the state ed commissioner to intervene (or resign)" »

Amherst still on list for Common Core forums

The state Department of Education is still working out the details of a planned public forum on Common Core in Amherst.

An updated list of community forums posted on the department's website includes eight stops between today and December, but does not include information on a previously announced meeting in Amherst.

The Education Department's communications office said the list will be updated to include the Amherst event once details are finalized. State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. is scheduled to begin the public meetings in Albany this afternoon.

The forums were planned after King caught criticism for canceling an earlier series of public meetings in which he encountered angry shouting from participants during a question-and-answer session on the new Common Core curriculum standards.

-- Denise Jewell Gee

Short Buffalo school board meeting = short recap and one complaint

Last night's Buffalo school board meeting may have been the shortest regular meeting on record since the new board was seated in July. It was 2 1/2 hours long and included a list of only four speakers. There were so few speakers that one of the few people who did get up to speak erroneously accused the board of changing its speaker policy.

If you want the nitty gritty, see the prior post that includes the live blog of the entire meeting. But if you want the summary of important stuff, here it is:

Continue reading "Short Buffalo school board meeting = short recap and one complaint" »

Buffalo school board meeting live blog: Oct. 23

Tonight's agenda, which can be found on the Buffalo school district website, appears relatively light. Carl Paladino is hoping to move a resolution to force Board President Barbara Nevergold to resign, but that's unlikely to gain traction. The full board agenda can be found on the school district website.

More criticism for Common Core forums after first is scheduled at 4 p.m.

News that state Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. had agreed to a new series of forums to discuss Common Core drew praise -- until parents saw the time the first forum was scheduled.

Some parents have questioned why King would schedule the Albany forum at 4 p.m., when many people are still at work.

King told reporters on Tuesday that state leaders have had discussions about extending the time of the Albany forum if needed to allow parents who aren't available until 5 or 6 p.m. to participate.

Continue reading "More criticism for Common Core forums after first is scheduled at 4 p.m." »

Did a Buffalo school principal repeatedly forge a parent's signature? Check out the documents.

As noted in today's story by Deidre Williams, Timekia Jones, a teacher's aide and former parent representative at Harvey Austin School 97, has alleged that the principal of the school, Brigette Gillespie, forged Jones' signature on multiple documents, including the state-mandated School Comprehensive Education Plan and other Title I documents.

These documents require a parent-representative's signature because each school is supposed to prove that they involved all school stakeholders, including parents, in certain school-based decision-making and planning. Jones states in an affidavit that her school principal forged her name on documents and never involved her in any decisionmaking process, contrary to what is required of School Leadership Teams that are supposed to collaborate in every school building.

Continue reading "Did a Buffalo school principal repeatedly forge a parent's signature? Check out the documents." »

Roadmap to registering your child at a Buffalo public school for 2014-15

As noted in today's story, parents who are planning to enroll their child in a new Buffalo public school next year should begin that process now. Below are all the documents you need to register your child. The on-time deadline to register your child for next school year is Dec. 6.

While parents may mail or fax in their applications, we encourage all parents to hand-deliver their applications to the Central Registration Office at 33 Ash Street, where a student placement staffer can review your documentation for any errors and acknowledge receipt of your application.

Continue reading "Roadmap to registering your child at a Buffalo public school for 2014-15" »

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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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]

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