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Board members want crackdown on suburban students attending Buffalo schools

Buffalo school board members spent about 20 minutes last week talking about the need to ensure that suburban students aren't lying about their home addresses so that they can attend certain Buffalo public schools. Though rumors are common, and the district has the ability to investigate individual cases, there hasn't yet been any large-scale investigation of how many offenders might be out there.

While the board may be divided in many respects, they were united in their concern about parents who live outside the City of Buffalo but may be fraudulently claiming a city address to send their children to high-performing city schools like City Honors.

In light of the district's recently approved student transfer plan, which requires the district to honor the transfer requests of students wishing to move from low-performing schools into better ones, the district has no seats to spare for non-Buffalo residents, board members said. 

"I don't care if it's one child that should not be in the district," said board member Sharon Belton-Cottman. "I don't care if it's six, eight, 24. I think you need a better handle on this situation ... We've got expenses up the wazoo in this district. We don't even know if we should be paying for this mess."

Board members agreed that the district’s lawyer should do a survey of all principals to get an informal determination of how many students may be living outside of the City of Buffalo and attending city schools. They also discussed tightening proof-of-residency requirements.

Board member Carl Paladino said he previously gave a list of six students who don’t live in the district to the board but that those six were never investigated. Administrators asked that the names be resubmitted.

"The principals in the schools know who doesn't live in the district," said Paladino, who has previously raised this issue as a topic of concern. "They already know. The teachers call them. It's obvious. They show up late every day. Their father is dropping them off, or their mother is dropping them off."

Although all student enrollment applications require proofs of residency, the revised application for 2014-15 also now requires parents to certify that their primary residence is in the City of Buffalo.

-- Sandra Tan

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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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