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Buffalo interim superintendent backpedals on comments about Elia visit

During last week's Buffalo School Board meeting, Interim Superintendent Darren Brown and members of the minority bloc took issue with a Buffalo News story recounting their first visit with state education commissioner MaryEllen Elia.

Elia repeatedly reinforced to board members that if they do not take action turning around the district's most struggling schools, she will use her authority to force changes.

Brown and several board members, however, said the story that included those comments mischaracterized Elia's message, and took the commissioner's comments out of context.

Apparently some have since changed their minds about the seriousness of Elia's intentions - at least when it comes to publicly pressuring the Buffalo Teachers Federation during ongoing contract negotiations.

In a press release lambasting the Buffalo Teachers Federation for failing to engage in negotiations, a comment from Brown references Elia's visit and uses a quote directly from the News article.

The release also includes comments from the district's contracted attorney stating that the district can not fix its schools without a new BTF contract.

“There is a real sense of urgency from the District and the school board, and obviously Ms. Elia,” said Brown. “She made it very clear: ‘if the schools do not show demonstrable improvement, someone will come in under my authority and fix those schools.’ We can fix our schools, but we need the teachers’ help and collaboration and the BTF’s leaders are preventing at least talking about how to improve schools for our students.”

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