Court upholds decision on teacher transfers
State Supreme Court Justice Gerald Whelan today upheld an arbitrator's decision that the involuntary transfer of 54 teachers by the Buffalo Public School system was in violation of the district's contract with the Buffalo Teachers' Federation union.
The transfers were initially enacted as part of a turnaround plan which the school board deemed the only feasible way to improve student performances at three low-performing city schools: Futures Academy, Drew Science Magnet School, and Bilingual Center 33.
Under state law, the turnaround plan would require the transfer of half of the teachers in those schools. Involuntary teacher transfers are not generally prohibited under the current contract, but some specifics in the way the 54 transfers were handled by the district were in violation of the deal.
An attorney for the school board argued that the turnaround plan was the best option out of four available from the state, but today's decision, echoing the arbitrator, means the district cannot make the teacher transfers under terms of the union contract.
BTF president Phil Rumore says the district wasted too much time by going to court.
"The judge made it clear that you're really wasting your time and money when you try to have an arbitration that you agreed to overturned. If the board decides that it's going to appeal, it's going to be just like they're sticking their finger in the eyes of the teachers who are already upset that they haven't had a new contract in eight years," Rumore said.
Seeking comment, the district tells WBFO and AM 970 News it is preparing a statement.