Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

The Buffalo school district's failure to involve parents yields more consequences

For some, the slim likelihood that the Buffalo school district will truly lose out on $36 million in grant funding for failing gain parent buy-in on its school improvement plans and grant applications isn't the point. It's the fact that State Ed has to threaten the loss of so much money to force the district to speak meaningfully with its designated parent organization.

The threat by the state highlights long-standing tensions between the school district and the District Parent Coordinating Council led by President Sam Radford. The DPCC is the officially recognized parent organization tapped with overseeing district compliance with many state and federal education laws.

Back in September, the state asked the district to either:

1.) Prove that it engaged in "meaningful consultation" with the parent group in the development of its federal grant application and school improvement plans, or,

2.) Go ahead and take several more weeks to meet with the parent group, get their feedback, then resubmit the necessary documents by Oct. 22.

Guess what road the district took?

Continue reading "The Buffalo school district's failure to involve parents yields more consequences" »

Lack of transparency continues

Yesterday's special Buffalo school board meeting and committee meetings were loaded with newsworthy information, some of which we'll have to catch up with over the course of the next week. Look for more stories and blog posts in the coming days.

But first, a follow-up on my last blog post about the Buffalo school district's philosophy and actions when it comes to matters of transparency. The special meeting called for 4 p.m. yesterday originally listed two agenda items, one on the Cross and Joftus consulting firm, and one on "other items" from the superintendent. In fact, that was the printed agenda still listed on the official Buffalo City Schools homepage this morning.

But the actual agenda board members received Wednesday was different.

Continue reading "Lack of transparency continues" »

Transparency violations abound on the Buffalo School Board

The Buffalo School Board's and district administration's ongoing disrespect to the public continues unabated.

Despite many written and verbal complaints on the part of Buffalo News reporters to get the Buffalo School district and school board to take seriously the issue of transparency, it's just not happening. A couple of board members have talked about transparency and even submitted resolutions about it, but when it comes to enforcing such matters, no one appears willing to make the effort.

Take last week's regular board meeting. The agenda summary listed 15 resolutions. The problem was there were actually 18.

Continue reading "Transparency violations abound on the Buffalo School Board" »

Former D&C reporter joins the Buffalo News education team

Strong coverage and enterprise reporting of education issues and the Buffalo school district is a major priority for The News. With that said, I'm happy to share that Tiffany Lankes, a 10-year education reporter, has joined our ranks. Tiffany will primarily cover Buffalo City Schools, though (like the rest of us) she may also jump in to cover other education issues. 
Tiffany is an Amherst native and Syracuse University grad. She interned at The News during summer 2001 and was an award-winning education reporter at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune before joining the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle in 2010. She's been the primary beat reporter covering the Rochester City Schools for the past three years.
Tiffany joins myself and Deidre Williams in ongoing beat coverage of the Buffalo school district. Mary Pasciak continues to do education-related investigative work, and Denise Gee continues her coverage of suburban education issues, as well as other broader education topics. You won't find this level of commitment to education coverage anywhere else.
Look for Tiffany's byline in the near future. She can be reached at and via Twitter @TiffanyLankes
-- Sandra Tan

More on Commissioner King, Lafayette and East

So the problem with the print paper is that sometimes, there just isn't enough room for everything. Today's story about State Education Commissioner John King's concerns about the Buffalo school district and Lafayette and East High Schools was cut for space reasons, and the same cut version of the story originally ran on the Web. (The cuts have since been restored.)

Worth noting is the fact that King actually visited Lafayette High School on Thursday afternoon, after visiting the The News. While his visit didn't lead to any change of heart regarding his comments about Lafayette, both he and Regent Bob Bennett did come away with a more positive impression of the school than they'd had earlier.

Also worth noting is that Erie 1 BOCES has had considerable difficulty getting students at East and Lafayette to sign up for classes this fall. Despite King's directive that every student at these two struggling schools be given the opportunity to take vocational classes through BOCES, less than 10 percent at either school has done so.

Contenders are lining up for next year’s school board elections

Even though the Buffalo School Board elections are five months away, candidates are already lining up.

Three at-large seats - which are currently held by Board President Barbara Seals Nevergold and Board Members Florence Johnson and John Licata - will be up for grabs in May 2014. 

One-time mayoral candidate Sergio Rodriguez announced on Tuesday he was running for one of the seats

The next day, Wendy S. Mistretta, Ph.D. threw her hat in the ring, too. And she’s no rookie in the education arena.

Continue reading "Contenders are lining up for next year’s school board elections" »

Live blog at 5:30 p.m.: Common Core forum with Commissioner King

Please join us starting at 5:30 p.m. today for live blog coverage of Commissioner King's Common Core forum at WNED studios. We will have coverage beginning half an hour before the live WNED broadcast and after the live broadcast ends while questions continue to be asked until 8 p.m.

Live Blog of Buffalo School Board Meeting on Dec. 11

Tonight's board meeting is at 5:30 p.m. in the auditorium of Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts, 450 Masten Ave.  The board agenda packet can be found on the district's website. The district failed to post two of board member Jay McCarthy's resolutions regarding a Cosmetology Program and a new elementary school for Fine Arts. The latter resolution can be found on the prior School Zone blog post.

The previous blog post has more information about items on tonight's heavy agenda.


New Buffalo schools and programs proposed tonight

Tonight's Buffalo school board meeting features a packed agenda, as noted in today's story. Among the items are several resolutions to create a new five-year advanced manufacturing program at Burgard, to open a new Medical Campus High School, and a new elementary school focusing on the fine arts. The resolutions are below.

Aside from these resolutions, the board is also expected to consider approving the Teach for America program and a new contract with the Cross and Joftus educational consulting firm.

We will live blog the meeting so please check back here later tonight and follow us. The board will meet at 5:30 pm tonight in the auditorium of the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, 450 Masten Ave.

Continue reading "New Buffalo schools and programs proposed tonight" »

Live blog at 7:30 p.m.: Hamburg School Board meeting

« Older Entries

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 |

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 |

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 |

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 |