Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore
BUFFALO, NY - The Buffalo Teachers Federation president is moving to have rescinded the teacher evaluation agreement that the union has with Buffalo Schools.
According to union president Phil Rumore, the federation believes that since the district has voided the Memorandum of Understanding that it agreed to not fire teachers based on teacher reviews, then it will not hold its commitment to agree to the evaluations.
"Since the district and the commissioner of education don't believe that they have to live up to agreements that they've made I'm going to make a recommendation that we rescind our agreement of the teacher evaluation process," said Rumore.
The controversy over the teacher evaluations surfaced when a secret deal was revealed that the state Education Department voided the agreement.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo reacted strongly upon learning of the deal - calling it unethical and borderline illegal.
The union disagrees and says state law is on its side.
The law says there "shall be just cause for removal," if a teacher is found to be ineffective two years in a row. So, the firing isn't mandatory.
Earlier this year, the state made teacher evaluations mandatory and permanent for all schools statewide. There are multiple risks if Rumore's recommendation goes through including, district lawsuits and state aid being withheld.
"Buffalo teachers only entered into an agreement on an unproved and untested teacher evaluation process because the Superintendent, as did hundreds of other superintendents, agreed that the results would not be used against teachers," Rumore said in a statement Friday evening.
Rumore tells 2 On Your Side that the recommendation will be presented to the BTF's executive committee next week. The committee is made up of more than 20 members. It's possible that all 3,500 Buffalo teachers will also vote on whether the agreement should be voided. According to Rumore, this would be needed to follow the union's bylaws.
If the measure is approved, teacher evaluations will still take place. But according to Rumore, they would not be binding and the union would consider them to be improper.
A spokesperson for Buffalo Schools says it will have no comment on the recommendation at this time, because nothing formal has been presented.
2 On Your Side has requested four interviews with Buffalo School Superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown this week, the latest was Friday, to discuss the teacher evaluation controversy.
All of the requests have been declined.