BUFFALO, NY-- The Buffalo Public School District confirms they will take over Pinnacle Charter School.
The district says Pinnacle will now be a public school and no longer a charter school.
State education department officials notified the school at 5 p.m. August 23 of their intention to close the school and sent representatives to Buffalo on August 26 to meet with Pinnacle and begin working with Buffalo Public Schools to develop transfer plans.
Lawyers for Pinnacle Charter School filed papers in State Supreme Court Wednesday, requesting a temporary restraining order which would allow the K-8th grade school to open as planned on September 4, but it they were denied. Though the case was scheduled for further arguments before a judge next Tuesday, a Pinnacle spokesperson says they will no longer pursue the case.
The move to take over operation of Pinnacle was unanimously approved by the Buffalo Board of Education during a special session on Thursday afternoon.
It also means that at least some of the current staff at Pinnacle could be replaced, because as a public school, union rules go into effect which stipulate that any laid off members of the Buffalo teachers Federation would be first in line for positions. The current teachers will re-interview for their positions on Tuesday and Wednesday. Principal Linda Marszalek, who unlike the teachers cannot get her job back, said she's been informed that there are only a handful of laid-off teachers potentially in the running for jobs, so many of her teachers should have a decent opportunity to retain their positions.
"It is heartbreaking," Marszalek said of the end of her tenure, "[but] the great thing is, our kids will be able to come back to school, or the building at least, and our teachers will be able to re-interview for jobs."
Due to all the necessary transition, Buffalo Public School officials project classes at the school on Ash Street won't begin until September 9th, five days later than the rest of its schools.
Reflecting back on the controversy which enveloped Pinnacle, NY State Education Commissioner John King told WGRZ-TV that despite slight improvements since the Board of Regents moved to revoke Pinnacles charter a year and a half ago, they simply weren't good enough. Primarily because, as a charter school, pinnacle was in fact obligated to do better.
"Anytime you have a charter school that's that is struggling, often times the argument will be made that this (charter) school is arguably a little bit better than another school in the district and they'll point to another low performing school," said King. "But that's not the terms of the Charter Law. The Charter Law was designed to create more autonomy for a school in exchange for greater accountability to deliver on the promises of their charter... and Pinnacle failed to do that."
At an emergency meeting Thursday night, parents still unleashed their anger at two State Department officials, as well as Pinnacle and BPS officials. Terrence Boyd said he specifically placed his two children in a charter school because they'd received failing grades in public schools.
Now, they're back to where they started.
"I just don't think it's fair," Boyd said.