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Buffalo Teachers Federation president calls for ouster of administrators involved in reopening plans

Phil Rumore has been critical of the process, saying it has been too secretive and lacking in detail. The top concern remains safety during the COVID pandemic.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The head of the Buffalo Teachers Federation is calling for the removal all school district administrators involved in the drafting a its pandemic reopening plan.

President Phil Rumore described the process of building the plan as “shrouded in secrecy.”

All state school district are required to submit at least an initial plan to the New York State Department of Education by Saturday. It is widely believed school districts will attempt to create a hybrid option of some days at school and some at home with distance-learning.

Rumore says nothing about this process for Buffalo Public Schools have answer questions on how the district will keep students, teachers and staff safe while they are in school buildings.

“How are the schools going to be sanitized after they eat lunch? The bathrooms, we don’t even have warm water in the kids bathrooms or the adults bathrooms. People don’t pay attention to that but that’s critical,” Rumore tells 2 On-Your-Side.

Responding to union criticism on Thursday was the district’s Chief of Staff, Dr. Darren Brown-Hall, who notes the crafting of the re-opening plan has including a variety of interested parties including teachers.

“The Buffalo Teachers Federation has had representation on the reopening committee since our very first meeting. Now, the very first meeting started off a bit slow because we did not have guidance yet from the state education department or the department of health," he said.

"But after we received that guidance we were meeting twice a week minimally for at least two hours each meeting."

Next week, it is expected that Gov. Andrew Cuomo will make some kind of announcement about the reopening of schools and perhaps some additional guidelines for school systems to follow.

Thursday's developments came less than 24 hours after the Buffalo Teachers Federation issued a statement, calling for a delay in submitting plans for reopening schools this fall. As of right now, those plans are due by Saturday.

"We are considering educational issues and plans that, if not done correctly, will result in the loss of lives and permanent physical harm to students, parents, school staff and the community, as well as the deadly spread of the COVID-19 virus," BTF president Phil Rumore said in the Wednesday statement.

Rumore told 2 On Your Side last week that the Buffalo Teachers Federation can collaborate with the Buffalo Public School District to develop procedures and to address the concerns raised by teachers, parents, staff, and students.

"We're willing to work with the district to do it," he said. "We need to. But it doesn't seem like there's any interest in having people work together. Looks like they're just gonna make their decisions downtown."