Buffalo School Superintendent Pamela Brown
BUFFALO, NY - After repeated requests in recent weeks to interview Buffalo's School Superintendent were denied, Pamela Brown finally spoke on Wednesday with Two On Your Side about a deal between the city schools and its teachers union, which possibly puts millions of dollars in state aid in jeopardy.
The agreement raised the scrutiny of the New York State Education Department, which is concerned whether it was aimed at circumventing the state's teacher evaluation plan, something that Brown says is not true.
Brown believes that she was following both the spirit and the letter of education laws when --in order to get the union to go along with the district on a teacher evaluation plan required by the state, the district and the union agreed to a memorandum of understanding (MOU).
The MOU held that the new teacher evaluations, about which there was much confusion, would not be used to determine if a teacher should be fired, for at least two years.
"I did not clearly understand in the beginning, that the memorandum of understanding needed to be submitted along the (evaluation) plan," Brown told WGRZ-TV.
"There was never any intent to have a 'secret agreement'. The intent was to comply with the law, which requires an evaluation, but also requires that districts negotiate an agreement as prescribed by the Taylor law."
Brown said at no time did anyone on her staff or the district's legal counsel advise that making such an agreement would cause concern from the state, adding that if she had been so advised, she never would have made the deal.
Brown's suggestion to rescind the side deal in order to address the state's concerns, is being met with staunch resistance from the teachers union.
Its president Phil Rumore also says their lawyers also found nothing wrong with it, .while claiming there are "100 other districts across the state with similar agreements."
When we asked him, though, to name just three of them, he declined...saying that would be their news to share with us, if they wish
Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Dooley O'Rourke. Follow Dave on Twitter: @DaveMcKinley2