BUFFALO - The District Parent Coordinating Council reached an overwhelming consensus Wednesday to recommend the Buffalo Public Schools keep Johns Hopkins University involved in East and Lafayette high schools, both of which were the target of a letter from the State Education Department last week.
During the course of a two-hour discussion, parents, administrators and other school leaders seemed to agree that Johns Hopkins, which began as an Educational Partner Organization in both schools this spring, should continue to provide support to the two failing high schools. On July 10, Commissioner of Education John King informed Superintendent Pamela Brown that if a plan is not enacted by Aug. 12 to rectify the poor graduaton rates at East and Lafayette, both run the risk of revoked registration. That letter also signified the denial of government funding for both schools.
King gave the Buffalo Public Schools two options: they can either create a plan to allow students from the two schools to transfer to vocational schools as a part of BOCES, or they can give BOCES the authority of East and Lafayette as the EPO.
Sam Radford, a leader for the DPCC, said during the meeting that there is nothing in the letter that precludes Johns Hopkins from staying involved. At the end of the meeting DPCC drafted an informal recommendation to the school board to choose the first option -- allowing transfers to BOCES -- in addition to keeping Johns Hopkins as a potential partner with BOCES.
King said that the two schools have failed to allow Johns Hopkins to "fully implement the Restart model as required by Education Law," but administrators and teachers offered praise for the program throughout the meeting and begged for it to continue. The recommendation will come into play on Thursday, when the school board meets with the superintendent to discuss the matter.
There were a handful of students at the meeting as well. Jayquan Mack, who graduated from East High in June, said he is now applying to the prestigious Juliard School for his musical talents. He credited the Johns Hopkins program for that opportunity and said he was in "100-percent agreement" with the council.
"It gave me the excitement I needed to come to school," Mack said.
He also said he noticed a significant change in culture after Johns Hopkins' arrival.
"People say that East High is a terrible school with a bunch of gangbangers, doing drugs, illegal activities," Mack said. "It's not true. It's not true."