BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - As critics call for her resignation, supporters of embattled Buffalo School Superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown are jostling to the front to be heard.
Brown's defenders gathered on the steps of City Hall Thursday evening, arguing that it is unfair to blame her for failures of a system that has been in decline for years. She inherited a graduation rate of 47 percent.
Several Buffalo School Board members showed up at the rally. Carl Paladino, the superintendent's biggest critic, watched from his car. He needs five votes at the next board meeting to terminate her contract.
Board President Dr. Barbara Seals Nevergold said, "First of all, he doesn't have the votes. Second of all, I think the public needs to start asking why he continues to be a distraction on the board."
Paladino countered, "[Brown]does not have the leadership qualities, and it's very easy to figure out. She never was a superintendent before. She has no management skill."
Dr. Brown told News 4 she has every intention of staying, even as criticism of her administration has come from as high as the State Education Commissioner himself.
Commissioner John King said, "My concern, particularly about Buffalo, has been the struggle that Buffalo has had, just to fulfill the core administrative functions."
Adding to the difficulties facing the superintendent: a board divided on the question of whether she should stay or go and the allegation by one board member that race could be playing a role in Paladino's moves to unseat her.
Board member Sharon Belton-Cottman said, "If it was not about race, he would look at her credentials. He would look at the fact that she has made major improvements and he would accept that at this point there is not the vote to move her out of her position, but to support her and move forward."
Paladino responded, "This has nothing to do with race. Sharon Cottman's playing the race card because she has nothing else to say."
While her supporters were singing Dr. Brown's praises, she was presenting her five-year plan for district with a goal of an 80 percent graduation rate.
But even if momentum shifts in Dr. Brown's favor, Paladino says he remains committed to unseating the superintendent.
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