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NYSED issues warning to Ken-Ton on state testing

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WBFO's Focus on Education Reporter Eileen Buckley has obtained a letter from the New York State Education Department to the Kenmore Tonawanda School Board President in response to this week's vote to consider a possible boycott against state assessments.

The letter was sent to Robert Dana from Ken Wagner, NYSED Senior Deputy Commissioner. In the letter, Wagner warns Ken-Ton that if it pulls the assessments it could mean consequences for the district, students and taxpayers.

"Failure to comply with the assessment requirement would also be detrimental to the taxpayers and the students of the school district," stated Wagner in the letter dated March 26, 2015. 

The letter warns of a possible loss of state and Federal education funding. 

The following is the full text of the letter issued to Dana:

March 26, 2015   
Mr. Robert Dana President Board of Education of the  Kenmore-Tonawanda Union Free School District 1500 Colvin Boulevard Buffalo, New York 14223  

Re:  March 24 Board Resolution on Required State Assessments  

Dear Mr. Dana:  
It is my understanding that on Tuesday, March 24, 2015, Board of Education of the Kenmore-Tonawanda Union Free School District passed a resolution indicating that it would “seriously consider” refusing to administer the required State assessments in grades 3 through 8 and refusing to use such assessments in annual professional performance reviews (APPR) of teachers as required by Education Law §3012-c.  It appears from your statements in the press that you are aware that, if taken, such actions would be in violation of law and regulation.  

I expect that you and the other members of your Board will comply with the law, as it is your sworn duty to do so as members of a board of education, and administer the grade 3-8 assessments.  Such assessments are required under Federal law and under the State’s accountability system in the Commissioner’s regulations.  They are also a required component of APPRs for classroom teachers and building principals under State law and regulations.    

Failure to comply with the assessment requirement would also be detrimental to the taxpayers and the students of the school district.  The former, because violation of the assessment requirement may result in loss of Federal funding to the school district, such as Title I, Part A funds, which, for the 2014-2015 school year, totaled approximately $1.1 million in your district, and loss of State aid increases linked to compliance with the APPR requirements.  The latter, because the result will be loss of services to students, particularly students who are struggling in school and need academic intervention services, which are linked to student performance on the State assessments.  

Thus far, your Board has simply declared that you are considering the possibility of violating these various laws and regulations.  If, however, your Board takes action to carry out its resolution and violate law and regulation, the members of the Board responsible will be subject to removal from office by the Commissioner of Education pursuant to Education Law §306 for willful violation of law, the Rules of the Board of Regents and the Regulations of the Commissioner. 

Sincerely                                                                                                                                                                                  Ken Wagner                                                               Senior Deputy Commissioner   

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