WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Williamsville School Board voted unanimously to place superintendent Doctor Scott Martzloff on administrative leave effective immediately, pending a full inquiry concerning his conduct in office and particularly concerning his plans for the reopening of schools.
“With anxiety and stress already high as the community navigates the COVID-19 pandemic, the reopening process has failed to give stakeholders the peace of mind or confidence that the plan, which has been changed numerous times over the last few weeks, is the best option for providing an exceptional and equitable education for Williamsville families,” board members said in a statement.
The board voted to name Dr. John McKenna acting Superintendent, effective immediately. McKenna released the following statement Monday:
“I am honored and privileged to have this opportunity to work as the acting Superintendent in the
Williamsville Central School District. I realize this is a difficult time of deep hurt and pain in
our community. I want to assure you we will heal and come together in the spirit of teamwork,
cooperation, and collegiality. You will get honest, timely, and transparent communication and everyone will be treated with dignity and respect. Every decision will be made thoughtfully, with collaboration and input from all stakeholders. But, most importantly, every decision will be made based on the best interest of our students. I am confident we will work together, find solutions, and make our District stronger. It is a new day in Williamsville.”
“It’s a new day in Williamsville!” – Dr. John McKenna, Acting Superintendent of Schools pic.twitter.com/9IqscfPspm— Williamsville CSD (@WCSD_K12) September 7, 2020
The district is using a hybrid model to start the year, but gave parents the option to have their children learn fully remotely. Then on Friday, Martzloff sent parents an email saying students using the remote model in grades 5 through 12 would not start the school year as planned due to staffing issues. Students using the hybrid model will still start September 8th. Parents and the school board say the announcement blindsided them.
“We as the board were lead to believe that we were ready to reopen school. As we have come to see we are not ready to open our remote option,” said school board president Theresa Anne Leatherbarrow.
Martzloff also did not say when those students would start school. Board members say the lack of communication and planning lead to their decision.
“This is unacceptable to me as a parent. This is unacceptable to me as a board member,” Leatherbarrow said. “I truly apologize to our community. We need to do better.”
Bryan Bryndle is a parent in the district. His son did begin school Tuesday morning.
“You had 111 days and you saw it coming,” Bryndle said. “So you have to be a little bit more prepared.”
During a press conference Monday, acting superintendent McKenna says the district needs to hire about 15 middle school teachers and 8 or 9 high school teachers for remote learning to start. He also did not give a timeline saying it would be irresponsible for him to do so.
“All we can say is now we’re going to move forward in a positive way,” McKenna said. “We’re going to make this right from this point forward. We can’t change all the things that have happened in the past, but we can make the future better and we will.”
The district also has to figure out how students will meet the 180 days of instruction as mandates by New York State. McKenna and school board members also met tonight with union presidents and the principals of each school in the district.