Buffalo Teachers Federation files lawsuit challenging superintendent takeover schools in receivership

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Teachers in Buffalo are turning to their union to fight the battle over which body governs Buffalo’s struggling public schools — the Board of Education or the Superintendent.

The Buffalo Teachers Federation (BTF) under the New York State Teachers (NYSUT) filed a lawsuit to challenge the transfer of control of 20 schools in receivership to Superintendent Kriner Cash.

The move to receivership allowed officials to re-write conditions for teachers of the 20 schools, bypassing union contracts.

“This is not just about our contract,” Phil Rumore, Buffalo Teachers Federation president, said in a release. “This is about mislabeling schools, students and teachers based on test that a task force on which the Commissioner participated were found to be so flawed that they can’t be used to evaluate students or teachers until 2019.”

Rumore and the union are looking to reverse the precedent that an outside official can override a union contract, which they say could have repercussions to unionized employees in all sectors.

Union officials also questioned how effective changes would be, including the modification of the school day, adding faculty meetings and teacher transfers.

Ultimately, the lawsuit pointed out that the same union contract is in place in high-performing schools like City Honors School, and inferred the contract shouldn’t impact education in lower-performing schools.

A judge could toss out the decision to nullify the union contract in receivership schools.

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