Officials of the Buffalo Metropolitan Federal Credit Union, citing concerns about safety, have told Bennett High School administrators that they will close their student-run credit union branch at the school.
In a letter last week, Angelina Incorvaia, the credit union’s marketing director, wrote: “After this school year, the student-run credit union branch program will conclude. The recent fight at the school involving the teacher and other fights in the hallways heard by staff while at the branch has brought concerns about the safety of credit union staff.”
Incorvaia added that the credit union wants to continue to provide students financial knowledge, but through other venues, such as out-of-school workshops and classroom presentations.
The action is the latest fallout from a year of turmoil at Bennett that has seen controversy over the school’s leadership, ongoing concerns about student safety and criticism of the administration’s decision to revamp the school this fall with little input from the school’s community partners.
It also comes on the heels of Buffalo Promise Neighborhood announcing last month that it would no longer serve as a partner for the school.
Buffalo Promise Neighborhood had enjoyed a decades-long partnership with the district and had recruited the school’s new principal, Terry Ross, from Memphis, Tenn., to turn the troubled school around. Ross, however, has been faulted for deepening problems.
Teachers, responding to an anonymous survey conducted by the Buffalo Teachers Federation earlier this year, cited weapons, drugs and near-daily fights at the school and contended that it is not safe for students or teachers.
An email statement Thursday evening from the Buffalo School District expressed regret over the decision and maintained that conditions at Bennett are improving.
“It is highly unfortunate that the management of the Buffalo Metropolitan Federal Credit Union has made the decision to withdraw from Bennett High School based upon the incidence of isolated altercations cited in their letter,” the statement read.
“There have been fewer incidents at Bennett this year than there were at any other time since the program’s inception three years ago. A discussion with administrators at Bennett would have borne out this fact, but unfortunately no such effort was made. It is disheartening to know that the students will no longer have this program at their access, while we will look for ways to supplement students’ financial literacy through core subjects and electives.”