BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A vote of no confidence in the superintendent of the Buffalo School District is getting reaction not only from the superintendent himself, but also his boss — the Buffalo School Board.
Dr. Kriner Cash has been heavily criticized over school violence, among other issues, such as school bussing issues, COVID precautions, and proposing to give top administrators raises.
The relationship between the Buffalo Teachers Federation and the district has been a strained one with numerous issues that have been contentious such as labor issues. The union’s vote of no confidence is just the latest development.
According to BTF president Phil Rumore, this is the first time the teacher’s union has taken a no confidence vote on Cash. The BTF also voted to request a state and federal investigation into safety in BPS and that school safety committees be set up in each school.
In a statement, the BTF says: “We appreciate many of the things Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash has accomplished; however, many calls for increased security and the increasing serious acts of violence, as delineated in the resolution, have been inadequately addressed and gotten worse. Ultimately, this is and was the responsibility of the Superintendent. Based upon what is contained in the ‘No Confidence’ resolution passed by the BTF Council of Delegates, representatives from all public schools, Buffalo teachers no longer have confidence that these dangerous and serious conditions will improve under Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash’s leadership.”
Dr. Cash responded with his own statement, just hours later: “This is an unprecedented time in public education — Covid-related challenges, social-emotional issues, community violence, and traumatic experiences occurring throughout our community and nation.
“It is an especially professionally challenging environment for teachers, administrators, support staff, and superintendents, and I commend and empathize with the challenges our staff face each and every day.
“As Superintendent, I have dedicated my life and career to public education and to providing greater equity, access, opportunity, and quality to the thousands of students I was hired to serve.
“Over the course of my seven-year tenure in Buffalo, this District has turned around under my leadership and it’s service to children through the implementation of the New Education Bargain which includes establishing a strong relationship with our teachers and administrators. No performative tactics of the BTF or any other groups will deter my commitment to steering the Buffalo Public Schools through these challenging times.”
Cash is still addressing the aftermath of the shooting and stabbing outside McKinley High last week. Students there will return to in-person learning in phases starting on Feb. 28, with stronger security measures in place.
Cash held a community forum Thursday night and addressed violence in the community.
“Stop it with this, do you think violence is in all the schools? No I don’t, what I think it’s in the community and we got to stop it there, we got to put a spigot and twist it closed, there we got to work up on it there and then it won’t come into the schools,” Cash said.
He also addressed McKinley’s school security plan.
“That has to be done again in haste and it has to be done again thoroughly and up to best in class standards that was not the case so that’s what we’re working on right now,” Cash said. The plan includes additional school resource officers, the involvement of anti-violence groups and repairs to surveillance cameras and door locks.
The BTF says Cash allowed McKinley High to remain unsafe and ignored red flags and repeated calls for increased security.
Ultimately, it will be up to the school board to decide whether Cash stays or goes.
On Friday, the school board president Lou Petrucci issued a statement: “Last night in response to security issues at McKinley High School the Buffalo Teachers Federation Council of Delegates issued a vote of no confidence In Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash. Our teachers are an invaluable and inextricable part of the educational process in the Buffalo Public Schools and we value their opinion. We also recognize the recent efforts that have been made to set McKinley back on the path to success. The Buffalo Board of Education is presently evaluating what this vote means for the district.”
Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.