Buffalo School Board President Barbara Seals-Nevergold has decided to run for a full term as an at-large member in May.
Seals-Nevergold’s announcement Monday puts to rest months of speculation surrounding her plans after the legality of her current term on the board was challenged.
“I am encouraged by the progress that we are seeing in the district and believe that we will continue to move forward on a positive trajectory if we focus our efforts on the children,” she wrote in a statement, citing figures indicating improvements in the district’s graduation rate, attendance rates and suspension rates.
Board Member Carl Paladino has filed two petitions with the state calling for her removal as board president, citing poor leadership and violation of the district’s policy on running for re-election. According to Paladino, Seals-Nevergold should have been required to run for election in May of last year.
Seals-Nevergold has been serving on the board since January 2012, after being appointed to fill the remainder of Chris Jacobs’ term following his election as Erie County clerk.
She is co-founder and co-director of the Uncrowned Queens Institute for Research and Education on Women, as well as an adjunct assistant professor at Empire State College and a former French teacher.
The School Board president said she never considered not running, despite the controversy the board has faced, and she anticipates the upcoming race to be an “intense one.”
“I think that certainly the emotions run high around the school district issues and members of the School Board,” she said. “And I think there are certainly individuals out there that would like to change the composition of the board and those who would like to become part of the board.”
She’s ready for the challenge. “I’m geared up. I’ve seen the last six months of challenges and difficulties to give you an idea of what I might be facing,” she said. “The intimidation that’s gone on before I suspect will continue, and it will take on a different tenor or tone.”
Seals-Nevergold is no rookie when it comes to running for a seat on the board. In 1993, she was a candidate for the North District seat but lost the three-way race with a little less than a third of the vote, she said, adding that she will draw upon that experience for the May elections.
Other candidates for the five-year term include Adrian F. Harris, a teacher’s aide in the Lancaster Central School District, who ran unsuccessfully against Paladino last year for the Park District seat; Wendy S. Mistretta, a member of the District Parent Coordinating Council’s Executive Committee who ran for the North District seat last year; and former mayoral candidate Sergio Rodriguez.