The irony should not be lost on Buffalo residents who woke up the other day to find that Yamilette Williams and Faith Morrison Alexander intend to sue Buffalo School District administrators and board members for what they describe as lies, fraud and “selfish political purposes” associated with their termination early last month.
Superintendent Pamela C. Brown hired the two women even though they were not qualified for their jobs. Now they want $3 million in damages for loss of future income and for “moving costs and emotional costs.”
They also want the courts to grant punitive damages against the district and the Board of Education. Williams and Alexander claim through their lawyer to be personally hurt. And their careers as public school district administrators are damaged. No, “ruined.”
By rights, city residents and students should be the ones suing the district, for once again failing to provide proper leadership. And it’s too bad the district can’t sue the women for the return of the thousands of dollars in salary they accepted for jobs they weren’t qualified to do.
Williams had been hired as the district’s chief of curriculum, assessment and instruction. Alexander had been hired as one of the district’s chiefs of school leadership, providing direct supervision over schools.
Only neither of them had the proper certification to work as district-level administrators in New York State, something brought out by board member Carl Paladino.
Both were finally terminated, get this, at Brown’s recommendation. But before being forced to fire them, Brown had one more trick up her sleeve: She wanted to turn them into highly paid interns while they sought the certification they should have had before showing up. They have since left the area and are unemployed, according to their lawyer. And they’re mad.
Williams and Alexander are accusing the district of fraudulent hiring, breach of contract, defamation of character, libel and slander. They claim they were fraudulently hired because they were incorrectly led to believe, through the interview and hiring process, that they had the certifications necessary for their positions, their lawyer said.
And they didn’t much like comments, particularly from Paladino and generally by all board members, when the board met in closed session April 2 to discuss the future employment of both women before unanimously voting to terminate them.
Williams and Alexander believe they were collateral damage for the larger purpose of removing Brown. But what they should have realized is that the superintendent is the one who did them no favors by hiring them without first checking to make sure they were qualified for their jobs.
The two administrators also should have realized that signing a contract that required them to be certified for their jobs meant they were leaving themselves exposed to the truth eventually being revealed.