UPDATE: The Buffalo school district's chief of student support responded to this post. Scroll down for comments from Will Keresztes.
Since there are only a dozen schools in good standing in Buffalo, out of 56, these transfer requests not only pose huge headaches for the district but alarm principals in struggling schools who fear the drain in their school's enrollment.
One such school is International School 45, a Hoyt Street elementary school that serves many immigrant children. In a one-page letter recently sent home to parents, Acting Principal Lynn Piccirillo touted the school's positives and ended by stating, "I AM ASKING THAT YOU NOT TRANSFER YOUR CHILD FROM OUR SCHOOL."
Members of the DPCC and a few School Board members say they are outraged that a principal would so aggressively attempt to discourage a parent from exercising their option to transfer their child to a school in good standing with the state, particularly immigrants who may be ignorant of their rights. Others, however, see little harm in the school promoting its own programs and making the request.
Below is the letter from International School 45.
Update: In response to this blog post, Will Keresztes, the district's chief of student support, wrote us to say International School 45 is not alone in its effort to promote its school and discourage student transfers. In fact, all schools are being encouraged to do the same. Here's what Keresztes said:
Schools are eager to explain the initiatives they are implementing to improve outcomes for students. To that end I advised principals that they may, indeed should, take the Public School Choice opportunity to compete for their students. That is very consistent with the intent of school choice; to spur competition for students. I support all principals who are making their case to parents.
Advocates who believe that an abundance of transfer requests is a meaningful strategy for improving schools should not sell parents short. Parents expect public schools to prove their value to students. No one should fear that.
While we can argue the merits of transferring students as an improvement strategy, very few would argue in favor of prohibiting principals from making their case to families. Many families are asking, "why should I stay?" Principals are answering the question.
(Also, see the previous post to follow our live blog of tonight's School Board meeting.)
-- Sandra Tan