Urban Think Tank, Equality Coalition, We The Parents outraged over BPS superintendent’s behavior during school board meeting

Education

BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) — After a Buffalo school board meeting broke out into shouting, several parent groups are demanding the school superintendent apologize for his behavior.

“We have to do better and we’re not going to do better if people don’t accept accountability and responsibility,” said Samuel Radford III, who’s a member of the N.Y. Equity Coalition. “It doesn’t sound like that’s happening and it’s our responsibility as a community to make sure that people accept responsibility and we hold them accountable or our children suffer.”

During the school board meeting at several moments, you could barely hear anyone speak. School superintendent Kriner Cash and board member Sharon Belton-Cottman starting yelling at each other through the zoom meeting.

“It’s not the first time we’ve had a contentious board member but it’s the first time it became personal and at that level,” Belton-Cottman said in an interview with News 4.

The shouting match happened after Belton-Cottman asked Cash where the district stands on hiring Liaison officers in each school. The officers work as points of contact between parents and the school.

“We have to start focusing back on what’s important, the children and the adults need to take their egos out of the equation and we have to ask the tough questions and demand the answers and we have to hold people accountable and I’m going to continue to do that as a board member,” Belton-Cottman said.

Multiple parent groups that saw the meeting say the superintendent violated the district code of conduct with his behavior.

“We cannot be distracted by the fights that are happening. It was a very valid question asked by board member Belton-Cottman. Where are they when will they be in place?” District Parent Council President Wendy Mistretta said.

“She wanted a report on the number who have been hired and everybody seen the reaction that she got by simply raising a concern that we as a community have,” Radford III said.

“Local media need to understand the motives of some individuals & stop giving an unbridled platform to these dishonest & swindling tactics. These individuals are long affiliated with exploitation and fraud, including the latest lawsuit alleging the fraudulent use of $322,000 in federal CARES funding. These operatives prey on chaos, confrontation, and crisis, even a global pandemic. It only serves to distract from doing the important work that we need to do and do together for our students and families, and for real, equitable solutions to our problems,” Larry Scott, Buffalo school board member said.

News 4 reached out to the school district for a response from superintendent Cash, who has yet to release a statement or give an interview.

The Urban Think Tank, We the Parents and other groups are holding a town hall Saturday, Oct. 2 starting at 11 a.m. at the Frank Merriweather Library at 1324 Jefferson Avenue to hear from parents.

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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