Two Buffalo Charter Schools were in State Supreme Court to try and keep themselves afloat after the Buffalo Board of Education decided not to renew their charters.
Enterprise and Westminster Community Charter schools were voted to close following the school year at the end of March by the Buffalo Board of Education, because unlike other charter schools, they were started by the Buffalo Public Schools in 2003.
Legal counsel of the two charter schools alleged the school district used outdated data to gauge the performance of the schools, and weren’t completely transparent in the renewal process.
In arguments before Justice Mark Montour, the two charter schools laid out their case that current alternative data should have been used, as state assessments were canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. Enterprise Charter said in court they tried to use a third-party service known as iReady, but it’s unclear if the district took that data into account.
In the Buffalo Board of Education's resolution for closure, they only pointed to performance at the two charter schools being lower than those of city public schools. In May, Enterprise Board Chair Thomas Ess told WBFO that wasn't fair to the nearly one thousands combined students, because it's hard to measure achievement in the middle of a pandemic.
"We've had no ability over the last two years, really, to have any type of academic standard that is equal," said. "We've been in a pandemic. We've had no ability to show our work, other than internal measures, which we've provided."
Charter schools go for renewal every 5 years, and while a submission was made in August of 2020, it wasn’t until nearly April of this year that a decision was rendered by the Buffalo Board of Education.
There were also questions on how much of the discussion for renewal was done in executive session, with lawyers for Buffalo Public Schools saying executive session was needed to discuss legal advice.
Under the terms of the charter, there is no agreed upon appeal process for a denial with the Buffalo Board of Education.
Justice Montour has granted an extension to Enterprise and Westminster Community’s restraining order on the Board of Education resolution, they’ll be back in court June 23.