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Arbitrator sides with Buffalo teachers

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Buffalo schools and the Buffalo Teachers Federation are in court Thursday morning, the day after the union won a major legal victory in arbitration.

The district plan to turn around three of the worst-performing schools involves transferring out half the teachers from Drew Science Magnet, Futures Academy and,  School 33 Bilingual Center.

That's 54 teachers who would have been moved out and replaced.

Arbitrator Jacquelin Drucker  ruled the district didn't follow the rules, leaving the case before State Supreme Court Justice Gerald Whalen this morning.

"We warned the district months ago that they were violating our contract," BTF President Phil Rumore said.

"Besides that it's not just even a question of a contract violation. It's a question that it's a stupid idea.I mean moving half of the teachers you know whether they are great teachers or not is absurd because that's not going to improve education."

The union has consistently opposed mass transfers of teachers out of failing schools.

Schools Superintendent Pamela Brown says the district is considering an appeal while admitting the confusion of which teachers will be teaching in which schools isn't helpful.
"Having to do that at this point in the school year is not the best option. But, we also have to think about again what has worked for our children and what hasn't worked and what do we need to do differently to make sure that we are meeting the children's needs."

Brown says she is also talking to the State Education Department about the ruling, with classes starting on Wednesday.

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.