Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ken-Ton Schools Receive First Official Threat from State

Well, that didn't take long.

The Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda school board adopted a resolution Tuesday night (two nights ago as I write this) to "seriously consider" boycotting both the state's test for grades 3-8 and the state's teacher evaluation via testing results.

This afternoon, WGRZ (and other Buffalo newmedia) reports that Senior Deputy Commissioner Ken Wagner delivered the state's threat to the board members and the district superintendent (who was never a fan of the resolution to begin with).

You can read a full copy of the letter here.  This particular copy is addressed to school board president Bob Dana at the district's central office, but you can see it has been cc'ed to all the important folks. Cause if you're going to make a threat, make sure you get the maximum number of people involved.

Wagner makes the assertion that administering the grade 3-8 tests "is required under federal law" and also by the state's accountability system and I am wondering, hmmm, exactly which federal law might that be. It could be ESEA's original NCLB requirement, or maybe the waiver requirement, which is sort of an end run around ESEA. What's really fun here is to play the game of what penalty, exactly, the federal law carries. What exactly is he threatening the board with? So, interesting assertion there, Senior Deputy Commissioner Wagner, and one sure to mollify people who are already pissed off about the state government pushing them around. Just wait till your Uncle Sam gets home.

Wagner says this "may result" in a loss of funds from the state, to the possible tune of maybe $1.1 million, perhaps. Between all these conditionals and the board's "seriously consider" resolution, we have a real battle of the possible maybe mights going on here.

Wagner also notes that while the board is only now considering becoming a bunch of rogue scofflaws, should they actually choose outlaw status, "the members of the Board responsible will be subject to removal from office by the Commissioner of Education pursuant to Education Law §306 for willful violation of law, the Rules of the Board of Regents and the Regulations of the Commissioner."

The Buffalo News carried a response from Dana.

“I didn’t see anything in there that we haven’t shared with the community in terms of what the ramifications could be,” Dana said Thursday. “He addressed them specifically and he seems to have a good grasp of what’s going on. Obviously, it would seem that they mean business. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.”

So, no in-boot shaking as yet. The board today scheduled a meeting for April 8 to decide what comes next. Their testing is supposed to begin on April 14.

In the meantime, Dana and the board had intended to send a message to Albany. Clearly, the message was received. We'll see who considers throwing the possibility of what at whom, perhaps, next.

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