An arbitrator has ordered Buffalo Public Schools to reinstate 17 of 26 assistant principals who were laid off in a 2005 dispute over single-carrier health insurance, saying the job cuts were "excessive and potentially punitive."
In a 41-page ruling, Michael S. Lewandowski said only nine of the 26 layoffs were justified to cover the potential loss if the courts overturn the imposition of single-carrier health insurance.
Lewandowski said the system used the layoffs to pressure the Buffalo Council of Supervisors and Administrators to agree to the single-carrier plan.
Crystal Barton, union president and principal of McKinley High School, said three of the 26 former assistant principals took jobs with other districts, while the 23 others have since returned to assistant principal positions.
The ruling would provide the 17 most-senior assistant principals back pay and interest for the time they were unemployed or, in some cases, working in lower-paying positions for the school system.
Stefan I. Mychajliw, a spokesman for the system, said school officials were deciding whether to appeal the ruling and suggested that the cost of back pay will have a bearing on that decision.