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Many Buffalo teachers say students are 'out of control'

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The head of Buffalo's teachers union says results of a study on student behavior  are "disturbing" and "distressing."   WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley reports on the survey results and has reaction from the district.  

Buffalo Teachers Federation president Phil Rumore said more than 1,200 city school teachers responded to the survey. According to its results, 13.6% say student behavior is "out of control" and 17.5% of teachers said behavior is "almost out of control." 

Teachers responded from 65 of the district's 69 schools. Teachers reported students acting out, swearing, threatening violence, and throwing furniture. Rumore is pleading with the city school district to do something.

"We cannot send a student back into a teacher's class after that student has attacked a teacher, attacked a student or is disrupting a student's learning. It's that simple. Something has to be done because as you can see, the concerns of the teachers is real," Rumore said.

Some of the behavior is identified at certain schools, but teachers will remain anonymous. One teacher claims that sexual harassment is occurring without any action being taken. Rumore cited one disruptive ninth grade student at McKinley High School who "lunged at a pregnant teacher." A teacher at the school was told "we just have to deal with him."

Rumore noted the district is trying to reduce the suspension rate, but now some schools are failing to suspend students.

“What happens in the schools and we are quite aware of it that City Hall is saying ‘look it – we want you to reduce suspensions’, so the principals figure the way of reducing suspensions is to not report them and not suspend – they’re trying to look good," Rumore remarked.

Credit Eileen Buckley/WBFO News
BTF President Phil Rumore detailed the results of a teacher survey on student behavior.

Rumore is calling on the district and its superintendent to work with him and teachers to work on how to stop the disruptive behavior.

“We don’t have enough alternative programs in the district. We don’t have enough school counselors. We don’t have enough school phycologists and social workers and they are not sending these students there,” Rumore explained.

The district has issued a written statement saying it has not heard the claims made by the BTF from any principal, but will review the report.

"Recognizing that students in impoverished urban communities often present challenges, the Buffalo Public Schools has accrued supports through Say Yes Buffalo and a vast network of community partners.  Our objective is to have classrooms that are conducive to learning and instruction. The District has not heard the claims in the BTF report from any principal.  District staff will review, with building level leadership Buffalo Council of School Administrators (BCSA), the recently released BTF report.

We know that 90 percent of Buffalo Public Schools students possess an extraordinary need that requires a level of direct and indirect supports and professional development for teachers, i.e., Trauma Informed Care, Culturally & Linguistically Responsive Training, and Restorative Practices.   Student-centered supports also include mental health clinics, student support staff, enhanced Afterschool and Saturday programming, and Parent Centers to support parents, etc. 

We must grow the children we want them to be.  We welcome continued dialogue and leadership in addressing the varying needs of BPS students to ensure their continued and future success," responded the Buffalo Public School District.


You can read the full survey by going to the Buffalo Teachers Federation web page.