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Buffalo Parents Slam School District's Response to Civil Rights Complaint

A Buffalo parents group is criticizing the school district's plan to address civil rights complaints, including alleged discriminatory admission practices at high-performing schools.

This is the second time parents have protested the district's response to allegations of civil rights violations in admission practices, which were the subject of a federal civil rights investigation, The Buffalo News reported.

The U.S. Department of Education's office for civil rights rejected the district's first plan in August after objections from parents and Gary Orfield from the University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project.

The district's first plan was based in part on recommendations from Orfield and the UCLA Civil Rights Project, which submitted 24 recommendations to the district in May.

The district's initial response accepted five of Orfield's 24 recommendations, while modifying the others, The Buffalo News notes. In the latest response dated Sept. 25, the district accepted 15 recommendations and modified the rest. The second response was sent to the Department of Education last week, according to the paper.

This time around, parents with the District Parent Coordinating Council say that the proposal does not go far enough in addressing their complaints or the recommendations that Orfield proposed earlier this year. The parents charge that the district's plan fails to eliminate neighborhood admission preferences for the city's top high school, Olmsted School 64, a pre-K to 4 school, or open a second City Honors, another top school. They were also critical of district's affirmative action plan for hiring teachers, according to the paper. 

Parents were also dissatisfied with the treatment of special needs students, but had delayed filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education to give the district's new superintendent, Kriner Cash, the opportunity to make changes, according to the paper. The Department of Education recently opened a second investigation in the district, this time looking into the "segregation" of English-language learners at Lafayette High School. The parent group also wants a "special master" appointed to develop and oversee the district's responses to the complaints of discriminatory practices, according to the paper.

Cash told the paper the new plan was an improvement over the first and reflected current conditions in the district. Although the plan had been submitted to the department, the district was still gathering input from the community and the plan could be modified, he said.

You can find more information on Orfield's recommendations and the district's response here.  

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