One Buffalo School Plan Rejected by State, Another Halted
Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - A plan to relaunch Bennett High School this fall has been rejected by the State Education Department.
In addition, the State Education Department (SED) has halted the Buffalo School District's plans to convert Martin Luther King School 39 into the Medical Campus High School.
"They were required to have submitted a plan for corrective action, in terms of what they would do to address multiple issues," said State Regent Bob Bennett about Bennett High School. "The plan that they submitted was not approvable, and was lacking in details and descriptions of how things were going to change."
Though SED agreed with the district's decision to phase-out Bennett High School, it found that its plan was lacking in several areas.
SED said, in a letter to the district, that Buffalo has not provided a plan for supporting the needs of students at the phase-out school. They also said that the district's plan didn't provide a timeline on how school leadership would be selected, and also didn't provide information on how the district would support the new school.
In addition, the district's plan did not give evidence that there was parent or community input in the development of the plan. "Quite frankly it's not rocket science," said Regent Bennett. "You have to be honest and sit down with parents and carefully convince them that their input is very critical since it's their kids that are in this school. You don't have a meeting and tell people what's going to be done, you ask them."
"This plan for Bennett is going to be monitored weekly. It's unfortunate that it has come to that, but it has in fact come to that."
Because the plan was rejected, Bennett High School will not be able to accept incoming freshmen for the upcoming school year. A new plan for the school must be submitted to SED by September 1st.
SED also halted the district's plans to turn MLK School 39 in to the Medical Campus High School.
Last week, the US Department of Labor awarded the district with a $3.5 Million grant to create the Medical Campus High School. However, SED says that the district's phase-out/phase-in plan for the school was lacking evidence that all of the preparatory work for the new school would be able to be completed by the beginning of next school year.
The district also didn't provide information on how they would support the implementation of the new school, or a timeline for the process.
"I think it's frustrating for all the stakeholders in Buffalo that there have been these challenges in submitting acceptable plans," said SED Assistant Commissioner of Accountability Ira Schwartz. "The Department doesn't get frustrated, we rather hope to continue to work with the district so that we begin to get the kinds of plans we need in order to be able to approve them."
The district now has until April 25th to respond to SED's questions about MLK School 39.