School board calls for delay in response to Office of Civil Rights

Jul 22, 2015

The Buffalo School Board will be asking for more time to make a decision on recommendations from the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). WBFO's Focus on Education Reporter Eileen Buckley says board members still disagree on criteria-based schools. 

Buffalo School Board members met in special session Tuesday at City Hall.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

There was plenty of bickering once again at a special school board meeting Tuesday.  This time the topic surrounded the on-going controversy over the recommendations made by Civil Rights expert Gary Orfield.  He calls for criteria-schools in the city to be more integrated and equal.  The school board has an August 15th date to respond.

But Board member Carl Paladino, who has refused to meet when Orfield came to Buffalo, called for a delay.  Paladino says the district should wait until a permanent superintendent is selected.  Paladino refers to some of the recommendations as 'nonsense'. 

"On how we go about promoting, appointing, selecting, hiring people -- we're going to focus on Affirmative Action rather than focus on merit," stated Paladino.

Paladino's comments set off debate with minority members,   pitting him once again against Barbara Seals Nevergold and Sharon Belton Cottman.

"In regards to this, I would like to go on record to say I am against asking for an extension," said Belton Cottman. 

"You see it as irrelevant. You see it as 'nonsense' -- to use your word --  you see it as unimportant. You don't have respect for the federal government -- for OCR," said Seals Nevergold." 

Distinguished Educator Judy Elliott tells school board OCR would not look favorable on delay to recommendations.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Distinguished Educator Judy Elliott warned board members that the recommendations are from a federal  -- not state office, and there is little 'wiggle room'.  Elliott told the board they would not 'look kindly' on a delay.

Interim superintendent Darren Brown said they will call for an a delay on the decision to short it all out. "But we all have one thing that we come together for and that's the education of our students and to make sure that all our students are getting a fair share at whatever school they want to attend, so I do think the board has the best interest at heart and we will work to get a reasonable answer to the recommendation to OCR," Brown told reporters.