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Buffalo school district adopts "sit-and-stare" policy

Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Pamela Brown issued a policy directive to all principals and assistant principals stating the formal policy of the district is that students who refuse to take the state standardized assessment will not be provided any other reading materials to pass the time.

"Students will only be allowed to read the assessment," Brown stated.

Until now, the district has had no formal policy regarding how to handle students who refuse to take the state assessments. It was left to each principal to decide how to address the matter.

Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore called the district's opt-out policy "cruel and unusual punishment" and said the BTF will pressure the school board to reverse it.

"This is terrible," he said. "This is absolutely outrageous."

Brown stated that there is no legal authority that allows a parent to opt out of testing. Rumore contends there is no authority that prevents a parent from opting out their child. Districts throughout the region have taken differing positions on how to address children who opt of tests, with some adopting positions similar to Buffalo's and others permitting students to read other materials or leave the room.

Below is a copy of Brown's letter to principals.

-- Sandra Tan

BPS sit-and-stare policy

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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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