A call for mandatory school assemblies to engage Buffalo school parents

Jun 2, 2014

A Buffalo lawmaker is calling on the Board of Education to adopt a policy to hold mandatory assemblies. In our Focus on Education report, WBFO's Eileen Buckley says the assemblies would be designed to engage parents.

School assembly inside Academy for Visual and Performing Arts.
Credit WBFO News file photo

"I think it sounds like a good think. It can't hurt. It keeps everyone informed and everybody on the same page, the students and the parents," said East District School Board member Dr. Theresa Harris-Tigg, as she reacted the assembly proposal. 

Common Council President Darius Pridgen introduced the resolution to hold mandatory assemblies at all city schools at the start of the school year allowing parents or guardians of students to attend.  That measure was unanimously approved last week by lawmakers. Now it would be up to the school board to consider implementing. School board member Harris-Tigg tells WBFO News it wasn't something she previously considered.

"But I guess when I think back, being a former student at Buffalo Public Schools, we use to have assemblies, parents would come. I don't know if they were called parents assemblies. We certainly had  lots of them and parents would be there," noted Harris-Tigg

Under Pridgen's recommendation -- the assemblies would outline district policies regarding parent involvement, parent engagement, Code of Conduct and the parent portal...But it would also help to inform parents about issues like Common Core.

Buffalo School Board President Barbara Seals Nevergold.
Credit WBFO News file photo

Pridgen's resolution was sent to Schools superintendent Pamela Brown and school board president Barbara Seals Nevergold. But Seals Nevergold ponders if it would be enforceable.

"That becomes the issue then. I think anytime you try to make something mandatory -- is it enforceable? I certainly would like to see greater participation, as all of us would, in parent activities and parent engagement, school by school," said Seals Nevergold.

Seals Nevergold said there are many other parent meetings, such as PTA and PTO sessions, and many schools hold meetings designed as activities to include the student and provide for parent engagement.

Nevergold referred to mandatory assemblies as "old fashioned" and noted that meetings would need to be specifically designed for parents of students attending English Language Learner schools.

Inside Lafayette High School where many students from other countries attend.
Credit WBFO News file photo