Judge denies Buffalo Teachers Federation injunction following lawsuit to block reopening of schools

Posted at 4:06 PM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 12:57:41-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A judge has denied the Buffalo Teachers Federation request for a preliminary injunction, following the filing of a lawsuit that sought to block the reopening of schools.

The Buffalo Teachers Federation filed a lawsuit January 29 alleging Buffalo Public Schools were not safe enough to reopen for in-person learning. In the lawsuit the BTF was seeking a temporary restraining order to halt the reopening of schools.

A judge denied the BTF's request for a temporary restraining order on February 1 and scheduled an additional court date for both the BTF and Buffalo Public School District to "present facts and testimony regarding the District’s decision to reopen."

The BTF then sought a preliminary injunction which a judge denied Thursday. Court documents say:

"The totality of the evidence does not justify injunctive relief. Instead, Respondents have satisfied all CDC and State guidelines to re-open. Further, the proactive steps taken by Respondents adequately address recommendations made by clinicians that advise in-person learning can occur without threat of significant transmission of the virus. See generally “Exhibit #18”. As such, Petitioner’s request for a preliminary injunction is hereby DENIED."

A further conference "to discuss the merits of the Petition now that the preliminary injunction has been denied," is scheduled for March 9.

Students returned to in-person learning in Buffalo schools on February 1.

Nathaniel Kuzma, general counsel for the Buffalo Public School District, released the following statement:

"State Supreme Court Justice Emilio Colaiacovo’s denial of the Buffalo Teachers Federation’s request for an injunction order reinforces the District’s cautious, systematic, and science-based approach to bringing students back to their “school homes” for in-person instruction. This was possible through the extraordinary efforts and commitment of our students, families, and staff working together--as we will continue to do."

Friday, the BTF released the following statement:

"While we are disappointed, we are not surprised. We look forward to presenting more evidence at the conference Judge Emilio Colaiacovo has ordered on March 9, 2021. Obviously, as a result of our court action, the District has implemented some of the safety measures we have sought. There are,however,many more needed. The public should remember that the District has refused to allow the schools to be inspected by an independent hygienist that we would reimburse. What do they have to hide? Every teacher I have talked with wants to be back with their students in person; however, they want to ensure that the return is safe for students, parents, staff and community."

The BTF says it also has concerns after it has allegedly received continued reports of the following in schools:

  • Filthy water in sinks.
  • Temperature scanners providing inaccurate readings. (Multiple Schools)
  • Filthy bathrooms, floors, etc.
  • Students not wearing masks, with no consequences.
  • Lack of hot water.