BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — McKinley High School students are expected to begin returning to school in phases beginning Feb. 15.
BPS Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash made the announcement in a press conference Friday afternoon. He addressed students’ return to McKinley and ongoing security concerns. The spotlight turned to the district’s security policies after a 14-year-old student was stabbed 10 times, a security guard was shot in the leg and a
Freshman students are expected to be back in the classroom starting Tuesday, other grade levels will follow in a phased approach. The exact timeline is not yet known.
“What I’m hearing is they can’t wait to get back they want to be back, I know you can attest to that,” Cash said. “And so that’s what we’re going to do, I don’t see any of our schools that don’t want to be at their schools. They love their school, the tradition here is a great tradition. This could happen anywhere, this is not a McKinley thing. This is something that could happen anywhere at any time.”
The superintendent also says that it will partner with anti-violence groups, which will work throughout the school day in McKinley and four other schools in the district — International Prep, Math, Science, and Technology Prep, Emerson, in addition to one other school.
Cash revealed that 30 McKinley students have had level four or five violations (assaults, fights) of the student code of conduct this year, of the near 950-member student body.
McKinley High School hired a new principal, Moustafa Khalil, “weeks before the unfortunate incident.” Khalil had most recently been working at East High School. Previously the district had been without a full-time principal since Crystal Boling-Barton was placed on paid administrative leave in May 2017.
Cash apologized to families who were upset with a lack of communication after the attack at McKinley. He said the district was doing its best to respond to a chaotic and evolving situation.
BPS is looking into upgrading their “antiquated” walkie-talkies to improve communication and Cash said state of the art metal detectors are on rush order. Superintendent Cash also said that McKinley is in the process of undergoing an assessment of the security layout there and that improvements will be made.
There have been growing calls for more school resource officers to work in the district. Cash says he’ll request two additional SRO’s to work in McKinley through the end of March.
On Friday afternoon, city officials indicated they would work with the district if school officials made a request to improve security.
“The city government will work with the school district in the way they want us to collaborate and partner with them, can we put more police resources into the schools yes we can,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.
The Buffalo Police Benevolent Association says it was opposed to off-duty police officers being pulled from BPS last year.
“I think it was a knee-jerk reaction that the school board or whoever in the schools made, they listened to the vocal minority and they pulled you know there were a lot of off-duty officers and that’s why you have things happen the way they have,” said John Evans, president of the Buffalo PBA.
But community activists wanted the off-duty cops gone, claiming they contributed to racial profiling in schools.
Cash says parents, students and teachers should have no concerns returning to school. “This (Wednesday’s attack) is something that could happen anywhere at any time, and it is happening across the county. The parents should feel safe to come to school,” he added.
Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.