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Council member: State oversight of Board of Ed needed?

Common Council members were uncharacteristically vocal Wednesday at an Education Committee meeting about their concerns over the state of the Buffalo Public Schools.

One of them, Mickey Kearns, led the charge.

He was dismayed not only by the fact that only about half the kids in city schools graduate.

Mickey Kearns He was troubled by the inequity among the city's high schools, which leads to "an elitism out there," with parents looking to move out of the city if their children can't get into City Honors, Hutch Tech or another top public school.

And he simply could not believe how many special ed students are placed at certain high schools.

Across the district, an average of 18 percent of students are classified as special ed. But at South Park High School, 26 to 28 percent of students are special ed, according to Will Keresztes, associate superintendent.

"You're using that school as a dumping ground -- it's disgusting," Kearns said.

"It's completely unacceptable," Keresztes acknowledged, saying he is aware of the inequities and is working on the situation. "I will be taking steps to adequately provide for all the students."

Suffice it to say that Kearns did not seem to take much solace in Keresztes' words, nor did he seem to have much confidence that the district's current leadership would be able to pull off a major turnaround.

"Why do we have a board of education? Do we even need them any more?" Kearns asked. "Maybe we need to bring someone in for oversight. Maybe we need to bring in something like a control board for the Buffalo Public Schools. Without a great educational system, we're not going to have a great city. We failed our kids. We failed our city."

(See Brian Meyer's story for full coverage of Wednesday's meeting.)

- Mary Pasciak

E-mail me at mpasciak@buffnews.com or follow me on Follow  SchoolZoneBlog on Twitter Twitter. Check out the Buffalo News' education page at www.buffalonews.com/schools.

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