BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) — Parents of Buffalo Public Schools students are calling on the district to work together on solutions to keep students safe in and around school. This comes after BPS Superintendent Tonja Williams urged parents to talk to their children about their behavior.

Several parent groups expressed their concerns Monday, including the Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization, Community Health Worker Parent Association and the District Parent Coordinating Council. 

“We want to make sure that our students are healthy, safe and supported,” said Jessica Bauer Walker of the Community Health Worker Parent Association. “They can get to and from school and they can find places where they can gather in healthy and safe ways. If there’s issues at the train station downtown, or other places. Let’s address that together and let’s come up with positive solutions.”

Last week, the district urged students not to gather in groups or hang out at places after school where fights are likely to happen but to “return home where it is safe.” Parents say this advice does not address the physical, social and emotional needs of students. They believe there’s a better way to tackle this issue. 

“What we’re doing is clearly not working,” Bauer Walker said. “It’s a system-level issue where there’s a high volume of students, they are looking for something to do and they’re engaging in things they probably shouldn’t, right? But they also have the right to be able to hang out safely.”

“We’re already getting parents reaching out to us about the messaging and how they feel about that messaging, wondering if Buffalo schools are safe,” said Danielle Grzymala, co-chair of the Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization. “I think it’s really important to focus on the collaboration piece and bringing people to the table. Our parents are concerned…. they want to see what else can be done.”

A spokesperson for the Buffalo Public School District said in a statement: “Superintendent Williams remains committed to keeping all students and staff as safe as possible, and her message to parents and the community speaks for itself. She is also respectful of all feedback, including from parent stakeholder groups.”

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Sarah Minkewicz is an Emmy-nominated reporter and Buffalo native who has been a part of the News 4 team since 2019. Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahMinkewicz and click here to see more of her work.