City school board members to hold ‘working session’ to discuss violence & student safety

Aug 2, 2016

The new leader of the Buffalo Board of Education has called for a ‘working session’ to discuss the impact of violence and safety in city schools.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley reports session is scheduled for Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Outside a Buffalo Public School.
Credit WBFO News file photo

“So it is really the beginning of a dialogue that is really much more than one work session,” said Barbara Seals Nevergold, President of the Buffalo School Board.

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

Seals Nevergold tells WBFO News with the 'unprecedented number of violent acts' across the globe, it's important to consider the impact it has on children. Seals Nevergold said some board members have expressed concerns, especially as students following so many social media sites.

“But we want to begin the process, because this is a difficult conversation to have, difficult for adults, certainly I think, and certainly it may be difficult for young people. But we want them to understand we want to hear them, we want to listen to them, we want to know what their concerns are,” Seals Nevergold explained.   

The public is welcome to attend Wednesday night’s meeting, but public comment will not a part of the session. The session will be held for board members to discuss how they can structure future community conversations with students and stakeholders.

Buffalo Board of Education meeting room at City Hall.
Credit WBFO News file photo

Seals Nevergold said she wants to refresh all board members on the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) and the District's own Code of Conduct.                        

“Because both of these are essentially the lynch pins of our ‘safe schools’, policy and process, procedures and programs,” Seals Nevergold remarked. 

But in an email, obtained by WBFO, dated last Friday, July 29th, from Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash to Seals Nevergold, Cash asked the school board leader to hold off on tomorrow's work session until he returns from vacation.  Cash voiced concern that the topic was had 'shifted significantly' on what was first agreed upon and believes he should be able to attend.

"The purpose of the meeting is unclear and appears to still be evolving.  Moreover, it has shifted significantly from the topic we agreed upon in the meeting you and I had before I went on vacation - i.e. to develop strong and safe curricular, instructional, and student support responses to, as well as create a possible constructive community forum - to discuss the many violent and tragic incidences that are occurring across the country and the world," Cash stated in an email.

Cash asked the board leader to postpone the session. "In short, please consider postponing the August 3 meeting until I return from vacation. Let's schedule it as an agenda topic for an upcoming Executive Affairs or Student Support Services committee meeting," Cash wrote.

Seals Nevergold refused.  She emphasizes this is not a voting or policy making decision, just a chance to hold a discussion to hit the ground running before the school year begins next month.