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ALLEGANY SENECAS ALLEGE SCHOOL PACT VIOLATION

The Allegany Indian Reservation School Board has filed a formal complaint with the state education commissioner against the Salamanca City School Board for violating a contract.

"We have tried repeatedly to work cooperatively with both the Salamanca board and its superintendent," John Hogle, said Joyce Crouse, chairwoman of the board. "But the reality is that they ignore their legal obligations. Our children cannot suffer any longer," she said in a prepared statement. Senecas are asking the state to force compliance by June 1.

The contract, negotiated after several months of intense meetings last year, covers costs of educating Native American children in the school district plus additional costs for Indian programs. The school district receives about $600,000 a year for the agreements. The cost of educating Indian children in the district schools is borne totally by the state.

Ms. Crouse said the complaint focuses on repeated delays in hiring personnel to provide required supplemental services for Indian students and efforts by the school district to circumvent procedures and meeting schedules.

"Given the specifics of the agreement, I'm surprised the board must invoke legal remedies in order to seek justice," said Robert B. Porter, attorney for the Seneca Nation of Indians. "We spent a great deal of time negotiating this document so that we would not have to play hardball with each other anymore."

"We certainly apologize to the district's taxpayers who will have to bear additional burdens in defending this action," said Lana Rozler, Seneca Education commissioner. "There is, however, no alternative if the problem is going to be rooted out. Hopefully, once the problems are evaluated, all children and all people in the area will benefit."

The Seneca board is requesting the state take immediate action to address its complaint, no money be paid to the school district until contract violations are remedied, that an investigation be conducted to determine why violations continue and an agent be assigned to administer the Indian Education Program.

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