The Buffalo Public Schools’ official parents group denied Sunday that it plans to endorse candidates in the May 7 School Board election.
The District Parent Coordinating Council released a letter it sent to School Board members Friday, saying it is not backing candidates.
“We’re not supporting individual members of the Board of Education. We’re supporting the parents’ agenda,” council President Samuel L. Radford III said in an interview Sunday.
However, two of the council’s officers – First Vice President Bryon McIntyre and Parliamentarian Wendy Mistretta – are running for seats on the board. Mistretta is running in the North District and McIntyre in the Central District.
“What group of parents would you expect candidates to come out of?” McIntyre asked a reporter Sunday. “You have a group of intelligent parents who are united, and you would expect them to come forward.”
Mistretta said that at a recent meeting, the group discussed whether it should endorse candidates and decided it should not.
“It would be completely inappropriate and maybe even harmful to the organization,” Mistretta said.
“We wouldn’t do anything to violate rules and regulations and policies,” McIntyre said.
At a School Board committee meeting Wednesday, West District member Ralph R. Hernandez asked a school attorney about the legality of such endorsements.
Assistant legal counsel Nate Kuzma said endorsements by any group operating under the umbrella of the Board of Education, such as the parent council, would be “inherently a conflict of interest.”
Radford said it was “disingenuous” of the School Board to worry about the council’s political activity when the Buffalo Teachers Federation endorses and actively supports candidates.
“They’re not questioning whether the Buffalo Teachers Federation has the right to endorse their future bosses,” Radford said.
Hernandez, School Board President Mary Ruth Kapsiak and BTF President Philip Rumore did not return calls seeking comment Sunday.
Radford’s letter to the board said the council may “inform parents about the importance of voting” and “educate parents about the School Board election process, including, for those interested, the legal steps necessary to run.”
But as for official support of candidates, “We want to reassure you that DPCC has not endorsed and will not endorse candidates and will not engage in partisan political activity,” the letter said.