Dr. Darren Brown-Hall makes history as Williamsville Schools first Black superintendent

Education

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Williamsville School District has appointed a new superintendent to lead Western New York’s largest suburban school district. The district’s board of education announced the appointment of Dr. Darren J. Brown-Hall Thursday evening.

“I want people to know that I’m, number one, transparent, number two, responsive, and number three, hardworking,” Dr. Brown-Hall said in a virtual press conference after that meeting.

He replaces acting superintendent Dr. John McKenna. Brown-Hall will make $212,500 in his new role. He makes history with the district as the district’s first Black superintendent and is the first Black superintendent in the eight counties of Western New York outside of Buffalo.

Brown-Hall assumes the post following the resignation of former district superintendent Scott Martzloff in November 2020. Martzloff resigned after being placed on leave that September amid an independent report that found Williamsville Schools didn’t open effectively in September, pointing to the pandemic, district culture and lack of active leadership as factors.

The independent report cited that in Spring 2020 that Martzloff was “detached from the challenges of reopening schools in September, and that continued into mid-summer when he told key district leaders to take vacations.” The school board and Martzloff eventually came to “mutually agreeable settlement” resulting in his immediate resignation. The former superintendent will collect $230,000 dollars for unused vacation and sick time.

Board of Education president Teresa Leatherbarrow said she hopes Dr. McKenna, who is tenured, will stay on his position as assistant superintendent of human resources.

Brown-Hall ushers in a new era of leadership in the Williamsville Schools after spending the past six years as the Buffalo Public Schools second-ranking executive — chief of staff to Dr. Kriner Cash. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from SUNY Buffalo State College and an MBA in finance and information systems from Canisius College. Brown-Hall earned his Ed.D from the University at Buffalo in 2018.

He told reporters he hopes to rebuild trust and bring new ideas and programs to Williamsville through strengths he gained in the Buffalo Public School District.

“An appreciation for diversity, of course, coming from Buffalo, where our demographics are quite different from Williamsville, right? But knowing that the demographics in Williamsville are increasingly shifting,” Dr. Brown-Hall said. “So we would like to bring, well I would like to bring, a definite examination of everything that is done in Williamsville to appreciate diversity.”

“I am honored to join the Williamsville community as the next Superintendent of Schools.
I look forward to working with the District team and the board to find the most effective and
dynamic ways to adapt to the new normal that our students, families, teachers and district
leaders face,” Dr. Brown-Hall said. “This is a time, especially in education, where collaborative,
creative leadership will pay enormous dividends for our students going forward into a changed
world.”

Dr. Darren J. Brown-Hall’s first day is July 1.

Patrick Ryan is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here.

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