One of the most frustrating issues for parents in Buffalo Public Schools is that getting information about small things is often as difficult as getting information about big things. The 2013-14 school calendar is a prime example.
While every other area school district publishes and distributes their calendars by early September, the Buffalo school district waits until the school year is nearly half over before publishing its school calendar. This year is no different. It appears the Buffalo school district doesn't think parents deserve to get a hard copy of their child's school calendar until the holiday season unless they are willing and able to download it online.
Given the fact that the school calendar is approved by the school board in June, the reasons for a five- to six-month printing delay are unfathomable. By the time parents get the calendar, next year's school registration process will be almost over and all the school open houses will have passed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.