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Another Voice: Save City Honors teachers through mediation

By Sarah A. Robert

We represent a group of City Honors High School families urging the Buffalo School District to immediately stop the mid-year transfers of 5.5 teachers, and for all parties to engage in mediation to resolve this protracted contractual issue.

During the mediation process, we ask that a creative solution to the teacher aide situation at City Honors be arrived at such that the district can better use their resources in other schools. It is apparent to all involved, including students at the school, that requiring 16 aides at #195 is excessive and unnecessary.

We understand that City Honors is one school in a larger community and we advocate for all Buffalo Public Schools to have the resources they need to ensure high academic achievement for all.

We also understand that this is a contractual legal matter, that the Board of Education publicly acknowledged that their attorney signed off on this labor contract, making them responsible for it, and that the courts have ruled in favor of the Buffalo Teachers Federation repeatedly. The District and the Board of Education have chosen to disrupt the education of the children they purport to uphold.

This situation could have been handled differently by the District and the building administration. Both took measures that were not in the best interest of the students, leaving them on the thin ice of the legal system, when at any moment the court could grant the District’s petition to lift the temporary restraining order and to go ahead with the immediate transfer of 5.5 teachers.

Our children are living with the uncertainty that at any moment their teacher could be transferred out of their school. The music program will be dismantled and the IB program is also at risk. Most of the 11th grade will be adversely affected if their IB Literature teacher would, at any moment, be required to abandon his planned-out lessons for the year, effectively cancelling the course. How does this make sense?

Other than two letters to parents, the last one notifying us that 5.5 teachers would be transferred out of City Honors on Feb. 27, the principal has not communicated at all as to how the school would adjust to his decision to eliminate these teachers. Neither the District nor the building administration have held a public, open, all- #195 meeting to explain how it is that we are in this situation and how we are going to move forward from here. Limited access meetings have been held by various stakeholders, adding to the divisive, poor communication with families at City Honors. Continued cuts have been rumored and parents are aware that changes may be made without their input again in the near future.

When nationwide students are demanding their voices be heard, students should be heard in matters that affect their learning and their schools. We are proud of the steps City Honors students have taken to make their voices heard on this issue of transferring their teachers.

We urge the Board – our elected officials and representatives – to direct Superintendent Kriner Cash and the Buffalo Public School District to stop the transfers and engage in mediation, putting children and families first.

This article was submitted by Sarah A. Robert and 30 other of the school's parents, students and alumni.

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