Buffalo School Superintendent Pamela Brown
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Dr. Pamela Brown, the Superintendent of Buffalo Public Schools, asked state education officials to delay her meeting with them until Friday so she can meet with President Obama Thursday. That is according to New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Emeritus Bob Bennett.
The purpose of the meeting with state education officials is to help the Buffalo School district comply with state and federal requirements in its plan for turning around two failing city schools -- East and Lafayette High Schools.
State Education Commissioner John King strongly urged the meeting when he rejected the district's plan for the failing schools. The plan also included two other failing schools.
According to Chancellor Bennett, Dr. Brown sent a letter to the State Department of Education requesting a one-day delay in the meeting. Bennett said the state granted Dr. Brown's request, meaning the meeting will occur just hours before the district must submit a final revision of the plan. If the state fails to submit a satisfactory plan to the state by Friday evening, the state could require the district to remove all students from the failing high schools and enroll them at schools in good standing.
While Chancellor Bennett believes the delay will not seriously affect the ability of the district to submit a proper plan, he was surprised Dr. Brown would request the meeting to be rescheduled, given the seriousness of the situation.
"I would have been a little bit surprised that this (meeting) would not be at the top of her list," Bennett said. "Hats off to the state staff for being willing to extend the day and extend the hours."
Dr. Brown, according to Bennett, indicated she also would be on some sort of panel regarding the president's visit, and that she had an additional commitment Thursday as well as a board meeting late Wednesday.
According to the Buffalo News, there is no guarantee Dr. Brown will even meet with President Obama. Instead, she is merely being considered among others to meet with him.
"To me, the four schools are more important than meeting the president," Bennett said. "But I didn't know she was going to be on a panel with the president... The deputy (commissioner of education) thought, as long as we have the materials, we'll meet Friday. There's nothing more to say. It speaks for itself."
Buffalo Board of Education member James Sampson commented on Dr. Brown delaying the Albany meeting until Friday.
"When the deadline is Friday at five, and the district has not shown an ability to turn out effective acceptable plans, yeah, it's pushing it to the last minute," Sampson said.
Chancellor Bennett also indicated that Tuesday or Wednesday the state will officially send back to the district a second action plan dealing with the transfer of 2,200 students from failing city schools. He said the state will demand revision to the portion of the plan that calls for the accommodation of those students within three years. The state wants those requests honored within approximately a year.
2 On Your Side is awaiting comment from the school district regarding the meeting with the president and the transfer plan.