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Buffalo teachers union eyeing lawsuit over city schools reopening plan

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The Buffalo Teachers Federation is looking at a lawsuit against city public schools reopening under the plan submitted to Albany.

BTF President Phil Rumore has been very critical of the plan submitted to Albany by Buffalo Public Schools, arguing it hasn't been thought through. He said it puts everyone at risk and doesn't account for pre-existing conditions among teachers, students and families.

He said there are teachers undergoing chemotherapy for cancer and others who are pregnant, and putting any of them in a classroom is very risky. He also doesn't think the school district has taken enough advantage of the time since in-school classes ended in the spring to put adequate computer access in place.

Rumore said the lawyers are poised.

"We have already set up a procedure where teachers can vote on any plan that is finally approved by the school district and we will do that," he said. "And if the teachers, through a vote, reject the plan, then we will be in court trying to prevent the implementation of the plan."

Rumore said the state teachers union lawyers are ready to help if it comes to court, something which would have to be brought and decided fast if classes are to open, whether in the buildings or online. He wants a parent vote on what happens, even with the required meetings to explain the plan to them.

"There is going to be distance learning. There is going to be distance learning for quite a while, so what we have to do is we have to find out what do you need, the parents: What do you need? and then we have to get it to them," Rumore said. "Because there is going to be distance learning. We have no alternatives. So we have to get it done and the time for planning is long past. But we still have to proceed."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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