Are students & parents unheard voices in Buffalo Public Schools?

Dec 1, 2017

Question: Do the students and parents of Buffalo Public Schools talk to administrators? Does it matter?

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

A group of students and parents have spent almost a year looking into how much communication there is among the stakeholders of the school system. The end result is a scripted multi-media show called "Unheard Voices: Giving Voice to Students and Parents in Buffalo Public Schools."

The show had its first night run Thursday night at Lafayette High School, where those involved had a chance to talk about life in the halls and classrooms. Jessica Bauer Walker, executive director of the Community Health Worker Network of Buffalo, said many do not think parents are welcome in schools.

"For a lot of our families, there are perceptions and barriers in terms of being involved in the school," Bauer Walker said. "It's not even necessarily about speaking truth to power. That's part of it, but we're just really encouraging parents and students to know that they have a voice, that their opinions matter, that they're welcome in schools and really just about creating dialogue and shifting the culture of our schools."
 

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

During a talkback, some students said they do not feel safe and they do not believe administrators always know that or perhaps care.

Hutch Tech student Damien Bartnick said there are problems at his school.

"There isn't a lot of things that we're doing wrong, but there is definitely bullying and a lot of fights," said Bartnick. "Like, my friend's been getting suspended. Well, she'll come back and then she'll get suspended again because people are saying something. The bullying is bad, but nobody takes notice." 
 

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"As an admissions counselor at Fredonia, I see it every day in high school transcripts and I come into the schools themselves," said Brandon Williamson, who came to see the perception of communication, "and you can see a disconnect from people who claim that they care to the people who are really putting in the effort, putting in the work and how can we get that same treatment in different schools and even in different districts."

Sponsors said better communication between parents and the districts is more important than ever to make some of the new programs work, efforts like the New Education Bargain and My Brother's Keeper.

The event takes place again Friday afternoon at the Canisius College Science Hall Commons beginning at 1 p.m. and at North Park Academy Saturday at 9:30 a.m.