Another tumultuous Buffalo School Board session

Aug 28, 2014

Racial allegations were flying at Wednesday's Buffalo School Board session. School Board members met in special session at City Hall to discuss proposed turnaround plans for Bennett High School and Martin Luther King School.

Buffalo School Board in special meeting Wednesday discussing Bennett.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Tempers flared between minority and majority school board members. There were outbursts from the audience as well who, at times, accused the board's majority and interim schools superintendent of racial bias.

Board members Sharon Belton-Cottman and Carl Paladino spared with one another over Bennett's future.

"I just wanted to know your definition of a real school," asked Belton-Cottman to Paladino. 

"A real is a school that actually educates. A real school is going to have someone other than the last principal we had at Bennett," responded Paladino. That remarked stirred those attending the meeting, including Bennett parents students and alumni. 

A consultant, Dr. Constance M. Moss, was hired by the former board in June to draft a redesign plan to prevent Bennett from closing. That redesign proposed a longer school day from about 7:30 a.m. to after 4 p.m. But it would offer a morning filled at the school with help to students with homework and exercise and allow the actual school day of coursework to begin later to assist teenagers sleeping patterns.  

Board members listen to proposed Bennett plan from consultant.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Interim Schools Superintendent Donald Ogilvie submitted a resolution to receive and file Dr. Moss's  plan with more time to study other new options. 

"Not send it forward to the state at at this time," said Ogilvie. "The District has the opportunity not to rush through this process, but to solicit additional proposals.  We have been given time and opportunity to look at this whole matter again," said Ogilvie. 

During the session, Belton-Cotton blasted the Ogilvie and majority for their resolution to not implement Moss's plan. Minority board members accused the superintendent of not telling them he talked with the state education commissioner late Monday afternoon.

Interim Schools Superintendent Don Ogilvie during Wednesday's special meeting.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"For your to put together a resolution -- be it you or Mr. McCarthy -- and not include me, I have problems with that," said Belton-Cottman.