The Buffalo School Board spent an hour heatedly debating changes to a parent-involvement policy Wednesday, arguing about how inclusive it was, how long it was and how clear it was.
Board members also went back and forth about whether the district’s current parent group, the District Parent Coordinating Council, deserved to keep its special status as the official parent organization for the Buffalo Public Schools.
“Parents are saying this board is not inclusive, and they are tired of it,” said board member Theresa A. Harris-Tigg.
A draft of the revised parent-involvement policy would include more parent groups but diminish the authority of the District Parent Coordinating Council, the district’s only elected parent body.
The board voted, 6-3, on Wednesday to move the policy out of the Executive Affairs Committee for consideration by the full board at its next meeting. Board members Jason M. McCarthy, Carl P. Paladino and James M. Sampson voted no.
A number of board members, frustrated with the parent group’s often adversarial and contentious relationship with the district, said they are hearing from many parents who don’t believe that the District Parent Coordinating Council represents their interests or concerns.
Bryon J. McIntyre, vice president of the District Parent Coordinating Council, responded that his group does not shut out parents and that the district is still legally required to work with the council since it is the only elected body of parents.
“To say that the DPCC is not the voices of all parents is to say that all elected officials don’t represent the voices of all their constituents,” McIntyre said.
Lawrence L. Scott, co-chairman of the recently formed Buffalo Parent-Teacher Organization, said his group represents about 30 schools and would like to play more of a role.
Unlike the District Parent Coordinating Council, Scott’s group has broader membership and includes teachers and other community members who aren’t district parents. Part of his group’s mission is to promote more of the positive aspects of the district.
“Our leadership would like to have more inclusion, as far as parent leaders being represented,” Scott said.
McCarthy, Paladino and Sampson argued that the policy should be simplified and that it should not be moved out of committee until the District Parent Coordinating Council had the opportunity to work out compromise language with the district.
But other board members stated that the board must still undergo a public comment period before it can adopt the draft policy and that there’s no harm in moving it forward since the policy would not be up for approval for few weeks.
The board also was supposed to hold a Finance and Operations Committee meeting, but it entered into a closed session that ran so late that the committee meeting was canceled.