Tapestry Charter School parents in Buffalo gathered Monday night to express their views on expansion plans to move some of the school to a former Buffalo school building. Students in K-5 would be moved from the Great Arrow Drive to Olympic Avenue. Parents question the building's air quality because of its proximity to the Scajaquada Expressway. WBFO's Focus on Education reporter Eileen Buckley made repeated requests for an interview with Tapestry's Executive Director Joy Pepper, who declined comment, until we caught up with her Monday.
Pepper appeared at a rally in Buffalo for charter school equity funding when WBFO News approached her about the mounting opposition against the school's expansion plans.
Pepper has stated it is too costly to build on the current seven-acres of land it owns on Great Arrow in north Buffalo. She began our conversation by reading details from an email sent by an air pollution control engineer with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
“That there are small particulates in the air, but nothing that is above what the normal levels are supposed to be, and so we can trust that location is a safe location. It’s been a school, even with the highway there, it has been an active school for more than 50-years,” explained Pepper. “Why is it not good enough for Tapestry students to make that a viable location when it’s been for other children in the city?”
But WBFO News has been told by some parent sources that they signed up and were never informed their child might end up attending the other location, not the Great Arrow school building.
“Well a year ago, when we would have done a lottery, in April of last year, we did not have an idea of where we were going. In this years’ time, we have looked at 15-other spaces. We also did not know which group would move," explained Pepper.
WBFO asked Pepper if she is surprised by the response they’ve received from parents.
“I am surprised at the negativity and the lack of trust,” replied Pepper.
The Tapestry School Board is expected to vote on the issue Wednesday evening. WBFO asked Pepper for a prediction, but she waved her hand and did not respond. An on-line petition by parents has gained more than 250-supporters.