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Parent leader feels ‘validated’ in Office of Civil Rights resolution for criteria city schools

WBFO News file photo

The Buffalo Public School District has agreed to work toward resolving the admission requirements for criteria based-schools.  The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights issued a resolution after three parents filed a complaint.  Parents had accused the school district of discriminating against minorities at criteria based schools such Olmsted and City Honors.

District Parent Coordinating Council president Sam Radford tells WBFO News this resolution offers a sense of validation and victory for their fight to stop disparity of students based on race.

"It's a really nice victory," said Radford. "We've been saying for years that there's a two-tier education system.  If you go to a criteria based school you know you have an 80-85% chance of graduating.  If you go to a school that's not criteria based the graduation rate drops down to 35%."

The issue stems from the more than 2,000 students seeking transfers out of failing city schools. 

In a news release issued by the school district, it states it has agreed to 'voluntary resolution' with the Office of Civil Rights.  The District will engage an evaluator to review the application process for criteria schools. In a written statement, the District said it remains committed to students of all ethnic and social economic backgrounds:

"The Buffalo Public Schools, consistent with Goal 9 of the District’s Public School Choice Plan, is committed to identifying barriers in application processes for criteria-based schools that may be faced by students from any ethnic or socio-economic background. 

In reference to a complaint that was previously filed regarding the District’s application process, The United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights provided a voluntary resolution that will allow the District to address the issue. 

As a result, the District will engage an evaluator to review application processes at criteria-based schools.  The purpose of the evaluation is to identify possible barriers and to provide recommendations in order to remove those barriers.

The District believes that criteria-based schools provide an important option for city residents.  The school district has a proven history in successfully developing these nationally recognized programs and is committed to the variety of criteria-based schools available to parents for their children. 

The resolution provided by the Office of Civil Rights is welcomed by the District and allows us to review and self-check admissions processes to assure best practices for the benefit of all students."

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