Buffalo teachers union claims discrimination at charter schools

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A study conducted by the Buffalo Teachers Federation claims charter schools are discriminating against students with disabilities and ESL students.

President Phil Rumore told News 4 their numbers show wide disparity between the number of these students in public versus charter schools. Rumore also says their data shows poor performance at the city’s charter schools and a high number of suspensions.

“We aren’t against charter schools. What we want to do is have a level playing field so they have the same types of students,” Rumore said. “They can’t just boot kids out and send them back when they don’t want them.”

However, Superintendent of Charter School for Applied Technologies Efrain Martinez says the numbers have been skewed. He explained that their students are chosen through a lottery system and they do not choose which students attend the Charter Schools.

“They use smoke and mirrors to create an argument where it really is not valid,” Martinez said. “I totally resent the issue of discrimination when we don’t have control of who comes to our schools, we don’t have control over who gets enrolled.”

But the teacher’s federation wants charter schools to take control and actively seek out more diverse applicants.

Rumore said, “The state has to demand and the Department of Education has to demand that charter schools have a population that is reflective of the public schools, and if they’re not doing it, they have to take corrective action to make sure they do.”

Martinez countered, “You know where the discrimination is? The discrimination is in thinking they have the God given right to keep failing their students decade after decade. I look forward to the day when charter schools will be closed because district schools are so good no parent will be looking for choices.”

Martinez adds that any drop in test scores at charter schools shown in the union’s study was due to the switch to Common Core standards.

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