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Buffalo public and Catholic diocesan school systems throughout the current school year. Controversy arose about a month ago in the Catholic system. One bishop had announced that four of the 14 diocesan high schools would not reopen in the fall. One of those four schools continues to fight heads decision problems surface much earlier in the public schools when a tight budget forced the system to start with 650 less teachers and aides than it had the previous year. A federal court ruling last Friday appears to have restored about 250 of those jobs. Judge Burton order order calls for the restoration of certain positions to the buffel public schools in the magnet schools in the schools affected by the quality integrated education program and in the remaining all minority schools and their teacher aides who will assist teachers in reading and mathematics. And work in other ways in the schools
affected by integration. Art music and physical education specialist librarians guidance counselors remedial reading teachers and other specialist who will increase the quality both of the magnet schools but also maintain the quality of the schools affected by the quality integrated education programme and those in the all minority schools. It's it's an order which restores some 250 over 250 teachers a teacher aged the school system at a cost of approximately three million dollars. The judge also said that the state could not be brought in to incur the to assist with the cost because the Second Circuit Court of Appeals had already ruled that this was impossible and he has ordered death by March the 9th that if there are any legal impediments to this occurring that we report to the court at that time. What is your general reaction to judge crotons order.
We the plane is who have been the judge heard and saw of fit to restore the cuts because it's a known fact that these cuts did have a vital effect on this process and. Restoring the cuts means that we will have. More teaches us to do the things that they're supposed to do. We also would like to see. Cuts restored to 9 magnet schools as well as the magnet schools. Would you say then that people order somewhat ignores certain aspects of the city's desegregation plan. It would most certainly because. In the past throughout tourney Richard Griffen we have filed briefs to the judge curtain asking him to do certain things. For example the first thing we asked was that he set up a modern Commission says
Michael Mason. He has done that. This commission is working and they have issued a written report. The other thing that we asked him to do was to. Appoint what we call a master to the court. And this master to the court would. Have to devise a complete overall desegregation plan. The third thing we asked was that an affirmative action mass to be appointed. So these are things that we have asked for and we're hoping that judge will see fit to come to it. What is your reaction to judge curtain's order of last Friday. In general we feel it's a satisfactory order although we don't think it went far enough. The. Decision did restore in the magnet schools all of the services that were cut back. However in the other schools such
services as foreign language physical education certain teachers aides. And regular classroom teachers were not restored. And we feel that the judge should have granted that relief as well. You know it does seem clear that the judge wants the positions restored in the magnet school. Certain positions hundreds of them actually that he feels are necessary to the success of the desegregation program. What is not really quite clear. And. Causes me some difficulty in and addressing the question. In any definitive way at this point is it's not clear whether it was the judge's intention that either the city or whoever provided for the restoration of those positions in the magnet schools. Exclusively through new infusions of money into the school system
or whether he left the door open for resources currently available to the Board of Education to be shifted from places other than the magnet schools. Into the magnet schools to achieve the necessary reordering of staff levels. Who do you hope for all six hundred fifty jobs to be restored. Well of course we had agreed with the plaintiffs that our integration program was affected by the cutbacks and all these and all these positions and we felt very strongly that the quality of the program could not be continued if we had these drastic cutbacks so that we felt that all of these positions should have been restored. And we're pleased that the judge has seen fit to restart 250 and we're delighted by the order. A more crucial question is where will the city get more than three million dollars to implement the court's order rebuild sounds the city could've saved a lot of trouble last fall by giving the
school board a 1.6 million dollar federal grant he feels was earmarked for education. Ryland says the city will now have to somehow come up with the money. The judge has said that it is not eligible that the if we do that we cannot apply for the state for relief because the state has been dropped out of the case by the second court of appeals so it must come from the city. Lish don't have time in this school year to make an impact on the educational program of these children so that we will attempt to get many of these physicians back into the schools. Many of these people back into the schools before the end of school year so it's our intention to proceed immediately. This is what the court said to proceed to do this and at the very latest by next September. So as I read it he's telling us to proceed right away and we will. There is a good chance that some of these teachers may in fact be hired before the end of the current school term which would be before your next
fiscal year. Where would the money come in and a situation like that. I haven't the foggiest notion. The. Superintendent is not talk to me about providing any additional funds. I don't know whether this is what he's contemplating. So are you are you can only presume that he has slack in his existing financial plan in other words that he's really over finance right now for the level of operations carrying on. And intends to use that slack to hire back some of these people. As far as the financing though of that three million dollars is concerned you're saying that essentially without having to lay off city workers and other departments the city at this point in time does not have the resources to come up with that kind of money. That's exactly what I'm saying. How important knowledge is that 1.6 million dollar windfall seam in the development of curtains order.
I think I think it was essential. It's seemed to me that at the time knowing that this was pending in court that this was a ideal opportunity for the city to have assisted us in restoring these positions and then made it unnecessary for the court to rule. The school board seems to feel that the entire 1.6 million should have gone directly to them. Well that's directly contrary to what the division of the project told them when they first called about the money directly contrary to what the division of the state Division of the board told me when I talked to them and. I don't really think the board believes that. Could the closing of some other schools and a teacher's shift. Fill some of the mandated positions about not exactly fill the mandated positions. Certainly I believe that we should close some schools. I feel that just for efficiency alone that this is important and that we have discussed closing
schools for a considerable at the time as a matter of fact in the first phase of the desegregation program we closed 10 schools and we submitted to court the names of some six schools the capacity to be closed. Now when you close schools you do save some money and that money or those positions that you save could be used to fund part of this order of the court. But the school closing question is a difficult one there's no question in our mind that additional schools must be closed. We have too many physical plants in use many schools are being utilized to only 50 percent of their capacity and this doesn't make sense. Money is short the budgets are tight. We must eliminate some of these buildings and it must be done in an intelligent and equitable way which takes into consideration all aspects of the city and particularly the overall desegregation plan. And we really don't want an amorphous goals closed in the city of
Buffalo. Most of those schools that were closed in phase 1. That those 10 Most of those were within the Buffalo community and send mail in the black community. So when you continued to close schools in the black community it means that. It's a certain. Power base. It's a place where community groups can meet. And it is worthwhile to keep those schools over open without a doubt. The only way. We could finance this. We had to. Cope with this ruling. Through new infusions of money into the school system. Would be by laying off. Various people from other essential city services policemen firemen.
Pothole repairman people run the snowplows. I just don't see it in the cards. In any way. No matter how much Albany helps us out. In our next fiscal year and we expect them to be of substantial help in coping with the city's financial problems. I just don't see any world in which. The city will be able to enter the next fiscal year. With a budget that provides any new positions for anybody without it being a deficit budget. A major criticism of Judge curtain's order is whether or not the ruling favors Buffalo's magnet school program. Many feel the magnet schools will benefit if the neighborhood schools expense. In a sense the entire school system benefits. Because services that had been in existence last year were cut back with the opening of the school year in September of 78 However the
magnet schools have a disproportionate availability of the resources of the school system and this was recognized by Judge curtain went to page 9 of his decision he pointed out that restoration of services in the magnet schools only aggravates the existing disparities between the magnet schools on the one hand and the other schools in the system. I feel that we're taking away from the other children my neighbor's kids my nieces and nephews. My own family my friends because they're not getting it at the other public schools. I think the city interfering and saying maybe they will take away from some of the schools and try and bring it back into the magnet schools is going to hurt the neighborhood schools and it's going to hurt magnet schools only because. The rest of the city is going to be hurt by it and you can't do that to a magnet school. And have the rest of the city back at some of the parents of the school seem to have mixed reactions about the ruling they feel that it's good for their kids here but
some of the kids in the other schools are being cheated. Would you tend to go along with that line of thinking. Particularly when we deal with waterfront. No I will not. When we opened we were phase one school and we never had exceptionally small class sizes. Our air bridge class our first year was an average class size of 20. It still is an average excuse me every 20. Who didn't have exceptionally small classes. We had. Teacher Aides or first year last year we had six teacher rates for the entire building. I think one of the things that has helped us. Is that we have been able to receive additional federal funding. For integration purposes namely ISA. And there has helped us a great deal we have been able to augment. And assist our integration plan with federal funding. When the board was unable to support some of the programming that we do here its school children
are concerned will they remain here at Waterfront. Well. We have to see what's going to happen to the city as a home. If every year we have to fight. If every year we have to worry about a budget cut because the mayor feels that the money should go elsewhere. I don't know if I could go through this every single year. I don't think many parents want to go through this every year. And I think the city has to sit back and look at this a long range plan parents are getting fed up with having to fight every year for everything that they want. I'm very satisfied him that like us and I am happy and my children are going to get a well-rounded education. They're going to be introduced to things they wouldn't be. We have more go in right now than a lot of the private schools have going. You have two children that attend waterfront and as I recall speaking with you in the fall you were not considering removing them from the magnet program although you were upset about some of the cuts in the program. Does the judge's
ruling now satisfy you on that point. Yes. I'm satisfied. Other complaints include claims that curtains ruling ignores the overall plan to integrate the public school system. The NWC view charges 16 public schools are nearly all black and that the system faces a real danger of resegregation. This disparity is particularly disturbing in connection with the remaining all minority elementary schools we have approximately 16 elementary schools that are still 80 percent or more all minority and that have yet to be done. The segregated and that's a principal effort of the plaintiffs in the case. We will continue on and various methods including magnet schools and the quality integrated education program. School closings and so forth to continue to integrate the school system. But we also contend in content very strongly that there is nothing wrong. Is there any violation the CATSA tuition to have an all minority school and that the all minority schools can have quality
education as long as the parents and the students in these schools have an option that they can participate in a quality integrated education program and they can't participate in the magnet school program. And how serious a problem might resegregation become in the public schools. That is a serious problem in certain parts of our community at the present time. Specifically. Bennett high school Kensington High School and Grover Cleveland high school there are strong indications that the minority percentage. Is increasing so that if something isn't done soon. To adjust the feeder schools in the districts we're liable to have another East High School in one or two of those locations. The Buffalo Public schools have not had this problem because our program is valid Terry and because it is a voluntary program we had the experience in the major
phase of it phase two of attracting majority students into the school system and we have not experienced this problem of resegregation. All of the controversy surrounding judge curtain's ruling could drag on for a good many months. The result was the very real possibility that his decision may be appealed. We have. Asked the court. For a system wide remedy we feel as a matter of law that the entire system was affected by the acts of segregation and that the entire system must be de segregated. Last year the judge had hearings on that had extensive briefs and propose findings and that has been in the court's hands for decision for some time. An appeal of different sorts is being made by a parent's group at St. John Newman High School in Williamsville. They're looking for 100000 signatures to petition the pope's assistance in keeping their children's school open despite Bishop hads announcement that Newman would close in June.
We should have the signatures gathered by a week from Sunday at the latest. And we don't know what we can gain with them. We don't we know that the envoy Archbishop Jodo will not cannot order the bishop to change his stance. We would hope that the archbishop would apprise the pope of our situation and we intend to take these petitions to the Archbishop and present to plead our case so to speak. We also of course have at our command commune direct communication with the pope through telegrams and letters. And we intend to follow that route if necessary. How do you feel about the questioning of your decisions. Well. The thing that really upsets me and really bothers me and really gives me sorrow now. Is when people are continuing as for instance this group at Newman I've met with them openly twice and heard three appeals. They know clearly
my final and complete decision and the reasons for it. And yet they have been going along and I say needlessly and I think irresponsibly planting in the hearts of youngsters I hope which cannot be fulfilled. We're trying every avenue we're trying to work with him we've asked him repeatedly to allow us to work with him and he with us to resolve this problem. And. We just we simply cannot understand everything that's going on from his standpoint. I was the one that did mostly all of the dialoguing with them. And I don't think I opened my mouth for an hour. I listen to them describe their proposition. I clearly said at the end of that meeting after I'd explained to them I could not accept their proposition the reason for it. The door is closed and I ask you to please give leadership to this. If you don't give leadership to it at least do not obstruct it.
Some members of your committee have claimed that the bishop isn't playing the game fairly In other words he's been changing some of the rules after the game if you will already was called in to progress. Could you explain this. Well it seems to be that way as I said initially he stated that the building would have to be purchased. He then through his representative backed off to the possibility of a lease agreement. He stated that he did not want us to fundraise and after we at least in my opinion met that demand as I mentioned the endowment principle. He still said no. Now it appears that the roadblocks have been put up and I think that we have removed all of them. For them to say to me or to the press that I kept changing the rules is not factual. That's number one. And for them to say that I gave I changed the rules or started some new process is also not factual.
All I did was between the second and the third hearing open up their option and say yes I won't insist therefore that you must have an order which were purchased I said I will even entertain an order that will purchase or lease in spite of the fact that I need as much capital as I can get as soon as possible to decrease my 17 million dollar debt to the bank. All you continue to push for a Catholic high school in the Amherst area. Well as far as I'm concerned and I think the committee feels the same way we will be pushing for the school not a diocesan high school but an independent Catholic High School in Amherst. Right up until Labor Day and when it becomes obvious that our efforts will be fruitless that it will stop. I would not be in favor basically. Setting up an 11 school that is really not needed and the setting up of that school if it would entail a massive fund raising it would be just counterproductive and it would threaten the viability of the 10 school system that the diocese needs to serve the needs of stuff. You have youngsters for
years and I'm talking about tens of thousands of youngsters that are going to be serious either attend school system. The bishop has made a decision. We have not taken up any conflict with that decision but he has also refused to allow what we feel to be a legitimate request and he's given reasons for this. But I cannot accept those reasons as being the real underlying reasons that exist. It is an happy thing for me to see four schools closing that have been open for years. It isn't happy for me to break the hearts of youngsters and families. It isn't a happy situation for me to see agony prolonged by certain groups in the community and building up force hopes in youngsters minds and hearts and I know is only just going to cause further and betterment. And on happiness this is not a happy situation but I'll say this it was a necessary thing that we did. And if I had it all to do over again.
Ch 17 Reports
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WNED (Buffalo, New York)
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This episode focuses on: Update Schools. Proca.
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Channel 17 Reports is a news series that covers current events through in-depth reports.
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Chicago: “Ch 17 Reports,” 1979-03-02, WNED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 30, 2022,
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