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Parents & citizens demand city school reforms

By Eileen Buckley

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-965426.mp3

Buffalo, NY – Parent groups and concerned citizens are joining forces to call for reforms within the Buffalo School District.

A call to action is designed to put pressure on the Board of Education to deal with failing schools, high drop out and low graduation rates.

Katie Campos is with Buffalo Reform Ed. The organization along with several other groups will host the screening of the film, Parent Power, followed by a call to action Tuesday night.

"Parents are the only stakeholders in the school system that can put students first without a conflict of interest. So give them the authority to reform the school system by putting students first," said Campos.

Campos said parents are very concerned with the fast approaching deadline by the state Education Department that calls on the city school district to submit a plan to reorganize seven failing Buffalo schools.

"We actually have a real opportunity to kind of organize this chaos and make something out of this huge problem we are in," said Campos.

The deadline is now May 9th. "The biggest problem is, we have know about this problem for a little less than a year and we haven't done anything to prepare for it. But now we have all these people that weren't before interested, or at least, giving their undivided attention to reforming the school system completely paying attention. We have the state, we have the teachers union thing, that they are willing to do whatever it takes," said Campos.

Meanwhile another set of stakeholders, community leaders and parents gathered at Hispanic United of Buffalo late Monday afternoon.

They too are calling on the City School District and Board of Education to provide a plan to deal with Persistently Low Achieving Schools or PLA's.

Many of the PLA schools, such as Lafayette and Riverside enroll a higher population of students that are English Language Learners.

Casimiro Rodriguez is with Hispanics United. Rodriguez said this directly effects many Hispanic and foreign students.

"The Hispanic community is one of the largest populations of English Language Learners in the Buffalo Public Schools. Many of the folks that are coming together in conjunction with other communities, include the Somalia communities and Burmese community. The Latino's do have a large population in the Buffalo Public School system which are part of the PLA Schools," said Rodriguez.

There are approximately 3,500 English Language Learners in Buffalo's School District. That's 11% of the District's total population with a 36% graduation rate.