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BTF takes legal action on teacher evaluations

The News first reported two months ago that the Buffalo Teachers Federation was preparing to take legal action against the Buffalo Public Schools for voiding a written agreement with the union that pledged the district would not use two years of teacher evaluations as grounds for teacher firings.

That legal action has started. BTF President Phil Rumore said last week that the BTF has filed a notice of claim against the district in State Supreme Court. A notice of claim is the precursor step to filing a full lawsuit.

The original agreement reached between the BTF and the district back in January was later declared illegal by the state Department of Education, the state education commissioner and the governor. Superintendent Pamela Brown said she would abide by the Education Department's ruling.

In the notice of claim, the BTF states that the school district has committed "multiple breaches" of the signed January agreement between the union and the district.

Here's the notice of claim:

BTF notice of claim 6-2013

As noted in the May story, legal action by the teachers union could threaten the status of more than $30 million in state aid this year, in addition to more than $10 million in various other government funding this year and tens of millions in future years.

Rumore said the BTF will work with its parent New York State United Teachers union to legally challenge any effort by the state to withhold funds from the Buffalo Public Schools.

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