Williamsville CSD Parent and Students United demands meeting with acting superintendent, threatens action

Williamsville

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB)–The Williamsville CSD Parent and Students United has sent a letter to acting Superintendent Dr. John McKenna on behalf of families in the district.

“Your message on September 14th was not enough. After listening to the message, we have the following concerns. If you want our trust and faith, you will communicate more openly and transparently as you promised,” they wrote.

Charlie Maclay is once of the parents who helped write the letter.

“The reality is we are the parents and we’re the taxpayers so at some point in time the school board and the district must listen to us,” he told News 4.

Parents and Students United are saying McKenna’s address was directed toward remote learning, not the hybrid model that more than 80% of students in the district chose.

They also say his address did not discuss children’s mental health and welfare.

In the letter, the Williamsville CSD Parent and Students United say, “the abrupt ending to the 2019-2020 academic year and the tumultuous start to this one has left many of them reeling. We need to know the district is as concerned as the parents are.”

They say there is no clear rationale for why more than 40 teachers hired for remote learning were terminated last week. 

“Dr. McKenna’s address leads us to believe the district is not committed to returning to hybrid schooling. We are concerned and distrustful,” the letter continued.

Parents and Students United is demanding a face-to-face meeting with McKenna no later than tomorrow, and also says the district must have hybrid schooling, and it must start no later than Septemeber 28.

“We don’t want to go to battle we’d like to do this collaboratively,” Maclay said. “We’re inviting Dr. McKenna to come out and do this with us not against us, but if we need to we will go and search for other options to force our issues to be heard.”

In conclusion, the Williamsville Parents and Students United says:

In your address you asked us to “give you time” and to “keep the lines of communication open”. We have given you several opportunities to communicate with us but to no avail. This meeting is a very good first step in making that happen. If you are unwilling to speak with us, 1,500 Williamsville families will petition the New York State Board of Regents and Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office with a neglect of education complaint against the Williamsville School District and the Board of Education. The complaint will address the failure to communicate with us, refusing to respect our wishes, and not following Governor Cuomo’s guidelines set forth this summer regarding communication with parents for plans to reopen schools.

A copy of the letter can be read here.

The district has responded to the parent’s letter, saying:

The District is committed to keeping the lines of communication open and ensuring transparency
as we continue to move forward in finalizing our plans and timeline for providing an equitable
education for all students. Dr. McKenna met with Class Officers, along with the Student
Interhigh Advisory Council, which has student leaders from all three high schools, on Monday.
He will be meeting with student leaders again next week. In addition, Dr. McKenna met with
Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) leadership on Wednesday night to have an open
discussion and listen to the concerns of parents in the community. We will also be meeting with
the PTSA leadership next week. We have mobilized, strategized, and are moving methodically with our committees to find solutions both short and long term.

We will Reset, Relaunch, and Return.

Troy Licastro is a digital content producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of his work here.

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