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Parents ponder how receivership affects recommendations for criteria schools

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WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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The District Parent Coordinating Council is demanding answers from the federal government on how receivership will effect a civil rights recommendation issued by the Office for Civil Rights for criteria-based city schools. 

With state receivership in place 25-Buffalo schools now fall under the control of the superintendent and not the school board.  Last week the school board sent in a revised plan to the Office of Civil Rights. 

DPCC President Sam Radford said they are calling on the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights to make an immediate assessment of  New York State’s school receivership law on the Buffalo School District’s civil rights remediation plans.   

"All the plans are based on a district that doesn't exist anymore," stated Radford. "The plans are based on not having receivership." 

Parents question who would implement those changes. "Even if the local school district has dropped the ball, we don't sit back and get the consequences for our children."

Buffalo school parent Patricia Elliott-Patton filed the complaint in 2013 after her daughter was rejected from attending the Olmsted School.  Civil Rights expert Dr. Gary Orfield issued his recommendations based on that complaint. Orfield suggests the district  remove neighborhood options from Olmsted and create a second City Honors. The board is not committed to those recommendations. But the school board revised those options. 

Elliott-Patton accuses   the board of watering down Orfield's recommendations. "In fact, it looks like they rejected a majority of those recommendations," noted Elliott-Patton. 

The parent organization notes receivership includes Community Engagement Teams who will help governor and guide the 25-struggling schools.  

Dr. Wendy Mistretta, city school parent and Chair of the District's Multilingual Family Support Committee, explains the Community Engagement Teams will need to understand how the impact of the OCR recommendations and determine which one's they want to implement them and in what ways.

"This also has a huge impact on our multilingual families. We know that a lot of those schools have a heavy population of English Language Learners in them and they are very much impacted with the OCR complaint," said Mistretta.  "So they need to be involved in the decision and the implications of the OCR report."    

Desire Radford's son is about to start his senior year.  She said he will be effected by the situation. "He has the most too lose in the sense that all these changes are being made and he keeps being dropped by the wayside. Who is going to be held accountable," stated Radford.  

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