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Parent group plans to fight decision by Buffalo Public Schools

Chris Caya WBFO News

Parent Facilitators, who recently learned they're out of a job with the Buffalo Public Schools, are calling for the program's restoration. Advocates say the facilitators played an important role in city schools.

Duncan Kirkwood, a Public Advocate with the District Parent Coordinating Council says, over the program's 9-year run Parent Facilitators had to sign contracts, log hours and attend mandatory meetings. Then, suddenly last week, Kirkwood says, the facilitators were told informally that the program was over.

Credit Chris Caya WBFO News
DPCC Public Advocate Duncan Kirkwood

"They at least deserve an official letter from the district. We'd like to see sort of board vote," Kirkwood said.
The district paid the facilitators a stipend of $300.00 a month, which Kirkwood says, was just enough to keep them going.
"So to just rip that away from our parents, in a very informal way, is something that we are not going to be quiet about," Kirkwood said.

Ti Markle has been a Parent Facilitator at Bennett Park Montessori for three years, and says, she and many other facilitators usually work much more than the 30-hours a month required by the district.

Credit Chris Caya WBFO News
Parent Facilitator Ti Markle

"I'd say some months I'm there 90 hours a month. We choose to do that. I know they're extra hours. But we feel that it's a real need. And we're really helping these people. So that 30-hour stipend just helps offset some costs for us," Markle said.    

DPCC President, Sam Radford says while they were treated like employees, the District classified the facilitators as independent contractors, which caused problems with the IRS. Radford says, the district should have included the facilitators.  
"They could have came to the parent facilitators with a solution. Not with just a decision. No parents were part of that decision making process. There are other aspects of the district where parents are intricately involved in decision making," Radford said.  

He says ending the program is "unacceptable" and the DPCC will be organizing parents and urging the school board to restore the program. Associate Superintendent, Eric Rosser says, parents are more than welcome to volunteer in schools until a new model for the program is developed.