Lafayette High School was the scene of a public meeting on Saturday, December 17, organized to get the message out to Commissioner Dr. John King that "we are united when it comes to keeping the doors of Lafayette High School open." King had threatened to close it if the district had not submitted an acceptable school reform plan before January.
Principal Naomi Cerre and supporters of the school gathered in the auditorium at 12 noon. The event sponsored by a group of parents had the support of teachers, staff, students, community stakeholders, politicians and religious leaders.
The presence of an alumnus, a grandfather of a teacher at the school added a bit of nostalgia to the days when Lafayette High School had produced graduates linked by "bonds of white and violet.." the colors of the school.
Principal Cerre and the teachers had to work under a deadline viewed too short to produce an adequate timely plan. But Cerre led the faculty through one of its most difficult and challenging period to come up with a turnaround plan for a high school designated as one of the persistently lowest- achieving in the Buffalo Public Schools by the NYS Education Department.
And the plan the school had submitted to the district had some unique features that included a full time attendance teacher in an office with a staff to address the high absenteeism rate in the high school. Fortunately, Cerre assigned additional help to the attendance office that is already showing signs of improvement over the dismal rate last year from 78% to 85%.
Also, the turnaround plan housed the 9-12th grades along with a welcome center in the main school building. And the older overage students, SIFEs and a new-comer center at an annex building with ESL and a CTE program. Community organizations would have provided additional support such as closing the gap services. The faculty and staff wanted the involvement of Buffalo State College as the EPO followed by the turnaround plan but in the end the school board voted for John Hopkins University as the EPO for Lafayette.
The Rev. Bruce McKay from Pilgrim St Luke's Church at the public meeting who earlier had observed the work of the Site Based Management Team at the school when they voted on the turnaround said it was disrespectful for the school board to ignore how the team at the school voted.
A colorful caravan of cars displaying the school colors violet and white traveled from Lafayette down to Elmwood Avenue to Forest up around Grant Street back to the high school.
Appearing at the public meeting were: VOICE-Buffalo, El Nuevo Camino UCC, Pilgrim St. Luke's UCC, PUSH Buffalo, interim Superintendent Amber Dixon, Niagara Council Member David Rivera, Assembly Member Sean Ryan, J. Rivera, Rev. J. Claudio, Rev. Bruce McKay, Lisa Griffith, Principal Naomi Cerre, Cariole Horne, and faculty, staff, students, administrators, and others. A film produced at the school showed students talking about Lafayette High School in their native languages. The Community has been asked to call Commissioner King at 518 474-5844 tell him they are united to keep the doors of "Lafayette opened."
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