Share this article

print logo

Official slams Rumore for assault comments

A city school administrator blasted the president of the Buffalo Teachers Federation Saturday and accused him of trying to distort the facts about a student's assault on a teacher to attract media attention.

Associate Superintendent Will Keresztes fired off a letter to union president Philip Rumore on Saturday, after Rumore told The Buffalo News that the child, depending on his age, should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

The student was 6 years old, Keresztes said.

"You purposefully did not disclose the age and grade of the student in order to better portray the student as a criminal," Keresztes wrote. "The student was a first-grader with a disability."

A teacher at School 33 Bilingual Center fell to the floor and was injured Friday after the special-education student picked up a trash can and threw it at her, The News reported.

Police said it was not a criminal matter. The age of the student wasn't reported.

"Obviously, I did not know how old the student was," Rumore said when reached by phone on Saturday. "I was asked about it, and reported what I was told by one of the teachers at the school."

Rumore said he had not seen the letter yet, but Keresztes' remarks don't surprise him because the union has a formal complaint filed over the special-education program.

"I was very careful," Rumore added. "I said depending on the age of the student, the student should be prosecuted and that obviously he needed more assistance."

Nonetheless, Keresztes fired back at Rumore in a letter, a copy of which was given to The News.

"After reading your comments, I can see why Buffalo teachers suffer such low regard in our community," Keresztes said. "It is because of you."

"You need to decide what you are first: a certified teacher in a dignified profession or just a union official with an ax to grind," Keresztes continued. "Teachers I know are not interested in locking up their students. They want to nurture them and influence change in their lives. Teachers I know do not exploit the challenges students face for personal gain. They protect them from exploitation and preserve their dignity."

"I would agree with the police that [the incident] is not a police matter," Keresztes said when reached by phone on Saturday. "It will enter ordinary district proceedings and then there will be a determination."

e-mail: jrey@buffnews.com