New twist in Buffalo teacher eval. saga

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — For now, it appears millions of dollars in state aid will still be coming to Buffalo Public Schools after a Memorandum of Understanding between the district and teacher's union was declared void.

In agreeing to the APPR plan, which will govern teacher evaluations in the Buffalo School District, the district and teacher's union signed a Memorandum of Understanding, saying in essence that the district would not use the evaluation process to terminate teachers based on ratings from the current as well as last school year.

But that agreement was not written into the language of the APPR plan. Governor Andrew Cuomo warned BPS officials that he felt the Memorandum of Understanding amounted to a side agreement, which would constitute legal and ethical fraud.

Now schools officials say the State Department of Education has declared the Memorandum of Understanding void, safeguarding the funding the district will receive from the state.

In a statement sent out Thursday evening, Superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown said, "In my correspondence with Commissioner King, I assured him of my commitment to adhere to all education laws, rules, and regulations with respect to our approved APPR [Annual Professional Performance Review] plan for the Buffalo City School District as approved by the State Education Department on January 17, 2013."

"We will continue to work with our teachers and administrators and their unions to implement our approved evaluation procedures in full compliance with applicable requirements of the state law and regulation."

What remains unclear is what this means for the union. Teacher's union President Phil Rumore says the BTF will take legal action, but it is uncertain if the APPR plan supersedes the Memorandum of Understanding, or if the APPR plan would be declared void in a court of law as the Memorandum of Understanding, which spells out the initial agreement between the union and the district, was not followed.

Rumore said he is aware of a similar lawsuit regarding a Memorandum of Understanding in NYC, but he was unaware of the outcome in that case.

If the APPR plan was declared void by a court, the district would lose out in more than $50 million in state aid.

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Democrat Andrew Cuomo is Governor of New York.  Two Democrats represent NYS in the U.S. Senate, and NY has 29 representatives in the U.S. House: 21 Democrats and 8 Republicans.
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