McKinley High School principal placed on leave

May 12, 2017

The principal at McKinley High School has been placed leave during an investigation following a lawsuit filed earlier in the week. The Buffalo Public School District has issued a response to a lawsuit filed earlier this week alleging discrimination against LGBTQ students at McKinley High School.

WBFO News confirmed with the city school district has placed the McKinley principal on leave during the investigation. Earlier this week, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) filed a complaint against the district and principal Crystal Boling-Barton.  

McKinley High School, Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY.
Credit WBFO News file photo by Mike Desmond

The  lawsuit stated school administrators actively blocked the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance at the school.

McKinley High School junior Byshop Elliot and another student are suing Buffalo Public Schools for discrimination.
Credit WBFO News file photo by Mike Desmond

The suit was filed on behalf of 18-year-old Byshop Elliott.  Elliott claims there have been attempts to form the club since 2014, but each year the proposal is “ignored” or “rejected” by the principal.

Friday afternoon the school district issued a statement from Superintendent Kriner Cash and school board president Barbara Seals-Nevergold. It states the district has taken active measures to addresses the grievances in the complaint. The District said it has informed McKinley seniors that they can attend next week's prom with the guest of their choice. It is also directing school staff to assist students in the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance as soon as possible.

The NYCLU lawsuit noted that in past years, students at McKinley were told that "couples" prom tickets were only available to different-sex couples.

The following is the full statement issued by the District:

“The District has taken active measures to address the grievances contained in the NYCLU complaint regarding McKinley High School. The District always has and will continue to uphold the democratic principles of active citizenship, personal integrity, civility, and respect for others.  Within that greater framework, the District has policy in place to ensure that students of the LGBTQ community are included and accepted in school activities throughout the District.

McKinley High School senior students were informed today, through acting school administrators and the superintendent’s student support staff, that they may attend next week’s prom with their guest of choice, under the age of 21, with NYS identification.

In addition, the superintendent has directed staff to assist students in the formation of a Gay Straight Alliance within the school as soon as possible.”

WBFO asked for a recorded comment from the District, but school spokeswoman Elena Cala declined saying "no interviews are granted during an investigation." 

The NYCLU has responded to the actions by the city school district with the following statement from Executive Director, Donna Lieberman:

"This is a welcome first step. We are pleased that the district has begun the process of protecting the rights of LGBTQ students at McKinley High School, and we are thrilled all McKinley students will be welcome at prom. Although the GSA has not yet begun meeting, and our case remains active, we are optimistic that the district will work with us to address the issues raised in the case. The discouragement, inaction and homophobia that McKinley students have endured must end. All schools and districts around New York must recognize that protecting LGBTQ students is not optional."