City Honors dispute remains in the court

Feb 27, 2018

February 27 was the original target date to transfer five and a half teachers out of City Honors School, but the issue is held up in court.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says a labor dispute has not been resolved between the Buffalo Public School District and teachers' union.

“The district doesn’t want to have to take this action, but it’s an issue of equity and equality,” remarked Nate Kuzma, general counsel for the school district.

Outside City Honors School in Buffalo.
Credit WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

The district is planning to transfer the teachers in order to fulfill a long-time contract agreement. It states City Honors teachers do not have to perform non-teaching duties. The district needs to cut the teaching jobs in order to pay for 16-teacher aides, who are now in place in the school to conduct those non-teaching assignments.

“We’re already paying for 16 additional staff members at the school on top of the teachers that we are paying for, so we are already using resources that could be used elsewhere,” Kuzma explained.

The actual teacher transfers were halted by the court when it granted a temporary restraining order to the Buffalo Teachers Federation. BTF president Phil Rumore argues a mediator should be brought in to settle the dispute. Kuzma tells WBFO News the temporary restraining order remains in place until the end of the week.

“At some point the judge is going to make the decision presumably within the next week or two, in regard to whether an injunction is necessary, so time is really critical here, bringing a mediator in to solve it is going to take many months, which we really don’t have the time to deal with,” Kuzma responded.

City Honors parents and students continue making pleas to resolve the matter and keep the teachers in place this school year.  Parent Wendy Mistretta has two children who attend City Honors. She calls on all parties to generate a long-term solution. 

City Honors students & parents rallying against teacher transfers.
Credit WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

“To find a way to settle this problem in our school before it filters on to all the other schools and we are doing this repeatedly with each of the other schools who are dealing with similar issues,” Mistretta stated.  

In a new development late last week the school district requested State Supreme Court Justice John O'Donnell recuse himself from the case. Court papers indicate he has a family connection to one of the teacher's to be cut City Honors.  The hearing on that request is set for this Friday.