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Parent leader speaks out against last school turnaroud plan

By Bert Gambini & Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Buffalo Schools Superintendent James Williams quickly, and unexpectedly, changed his plans for dealing with the District's lowest-performing schools.

In order to qualify for millions of dollars in aid, those schools must implement once of four correctional-models.

Williams was committed to the idea of replacing the Principal and half of the staff at each building. But during a meeting Wednesday, he informed the Board of Education that he now prefers implementing an Educational Partnership Organization, a non-profit group that would serve as each schools Superintendent.

A special meeting has been scheduled for 5 o'clock Thursday night at City Hall to vote on the proposal.

The leader of the District Parent Coordinating Council is speaking out against the scheduled school board vote.

Samuel Radford tells WBFO News the plan will not work for city students.

"That's actually the most alarming thing for us all. Here were are in the last 30 days, we've seen three different plans and the last two are polar opposites. It is the clearest example that we don't know how to turn around these schools and do urban education," said Radford.

Radford notes the structural problems and 75% drop out rates for African American and Hispanic students will not improve with this proposed plan.

"The teachers said we will not compromise under no circumstances. What do we end up with today, now we've got a situation where we move no principals and no teachers. From what I understand, that decision was made in a five minute period. We are literally making decisions that are going to effect our children's lives for the rest of their lives. We are making decisions in five minutes with no meaningful parent involvement, and they actually want parents to send their children into this chaos," said Radford.

Meantime, Williams has issued a written statement calling a planned boycott by the District's Parents' Group a bad idea.

The Group said they'll keep their kids home on May 16th to protest what they see as lingering problems.

Williams, however, points out that poor attendance has been identified as one of the factors contributing to poor performance. He said participating in the boycott, perpetuates the problem.

"Send your children to school everyday. Support your children in school. Make sure they come to school prepared to learn," said Williams.

School Board President Ralph Hernandez agrees with Williams. He said groups which need children to make a point do nothing but show they have no point.