Parents made a series of demands Wednesday evening on the Buffalo Board of Education, saying they will no longer accept years of “willful neglect” of parent needs and state-required parent input.
If the board continues to refuse to listen to parents after seven years of repeated warnings of noncompliance with state mandates, Samuel Radford III, president of the District Parent Coordinating Council, said, parents will organize against the district and petition the state education commissioner for the removal of board members.
“You’re not going to force us to take something we don’t want,” Radford said.
The meeting was convened after members of the parent group threatened to hold a sit-in at City Hall last week and get arrested unless board members agreed to meet with them.
The meeting was meant to make sure the board is informed of the pressing and ongoing problems parents have with the school district and to end board members’ claims that they weren’t aware of issues the parent group has with the district administration.
Parents packed School Board chambers wearing shirts reading, “PARENT POWER: I will not be silent when it comes to my child.”
Among the issues raised were the failure of the district to involve parents in the closure and relaunch plans for Martin Luther King School and Bennett High School; the merger of School 115 – the former Pinnacle Charter School – with Harvey Austin School; and the co-location of Middle Early College with Math Science and Technology Preparatory.
All were proposals the board agreed to adopt over the strident objection of parents.
Radford and a series of other parents made their case to board members.Radford said parents would organize and begin a “direct action” campaign against the district if the board doesn’t agree to adopt four key demands:
• The board must take an “objective” position regarding differences between the administration and the parent group. That would include a way for board members to be involved in a resolution process where both sides could be heard before the board votes on or approves plans.
• The board should determine the current status of the student transfer plan, many aspects of which are now nullified by recent superintendent and board decisions. The parent group wants a new transfer plan developed in collaboration with parents.
• In all cases where schools are being converted into a new educational program, co-located in other school buildings or simply closed, the parent group wants the School Board to only approve a district plan that has more than 51 percent of parent support.
• The board should develop a policy where the district is required to partner with parents in the development of district plans instead of having board members simply vote on plans that were already developed and completed by the district without parent buy-in.
Parents want the board to introduce proposals to address each of the four demands by May 14, Radford said. The parent group and board will meet again next Wednesday to continue their discussions.