BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Students at Nardin Academy held their second demonstration in a week in response to the school’s leadership. After hosting a walk-out last week, high school students on Thursday gathered in front of the school for a walk-in, during which they all wore the school color green and entered the building in solidarity.
A parent present at the walk-in claimed the demonstration was partially in response to the firing of biology teacher Marilou Bebak, who had been escorted from the building earlier this year — a factor that led to the initial walk-out. A former Nardin teacher said at the walk-out that Bebak was a 36-year veteran of the school who was loved by many students.
Regarding the claim that Bebak was fired, Nardin had no comment.
“Nardin Academy does not comment on personnel matters,” the school said in a statement sent to News 4 shortly after noon Thursday. “Whenever Nardin receives concerns regarding our students, we handle it with the utmost care, and we uphold our Catholic values of embracing all, and upholding the dignity of all people.”
One Nardin mother News 4 spoke with at the walk-in said her daughter has not had biology class since March. Another mother, Cristine Adams, said the girls are pleading for their teachers and their education.
“If hundreds of teenage girls have felt such a negative morale amongst their teachers that they peacefully spoke out and advocated for their school and teachers, that is more powerful than any parent, than any board,” Adams said. “These girls are pleading for their teachers, for their school. They want their education.”
Adams, the mother of a 4th, 9th, and 11th grader, said her girls, their classmates, and their teachers are suffering.
“I have three girls at Nardin, and they’ve been there since they were 3 years old. They’re proud of their school,” she said. “These girls are smart, they’re dedicated, they’re hard-working, and they’re suffering. Their teachers are suffering. Their teachers are equally dedicated to them. It’s not fair. The lesson these kids are learning is: their voices are ignored and their advocacy is ignored.”
Nine members of Nardin’s Board of Trustees called for the resignation of Academy President Dr. Sandra Betters and Board Chair Tish Van Dyke last Friday following the initial walk-out. Several students and parents told News 4 the protest was in response to Nardin’s leadership and its affect on school morale.
The nine board members who called for the administrators’ resignations claimed there are other members who support the calls for resignation, but chose to not provide their names for “personal reasons.”
The school called the statement from the board members “rogue,” as well as “ill-advised” and “poor governance.”
Nardin reportedly initiated a third-party assessment of the school’s operations, the results of which are forthcoming. The school said the board members releasing a statement prior to the results of that inquiry being finalized “demonstrate(s) blatant disregard for our agreed-upon process and, more importantly, the reputation of the beloved and outstanding learning community that Nardin represents.”
In addition to the board, multiple donors have began to withhold support from the school until there is a change in leadership, including the Keane family, the benefactor behind the school’s Kevin T. Keane Sports Park.
“There is no Nardin without students and teachers,” Adams said. “And those are the people suffering right now.”
Adam Duke is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of his work here.