Mamie Till Mobley

"There was an important mission for me, to shape so many...young minds as a teacher. God took away one child but...(gave) me thousands. And I have been grateful for the blessing." Mamie Till Mobley

Saturday, July 28, 2012

B-LoEdScene: The Emperor Has No Shame

B-LoEdScene: The Emperor Has No Shame: James Williams : a trademark hybrid of shiftlessness and arrogance Has anyone seen anything as comical and self delusional James Willi...

Former superintendent James left buffalo to have fun...

"I'm 67 years old. I'll be 68 in the next year. There are some other things I want to do. My kids graduated from college. One got married last week. I think it's time for me to have some fun," he said...

according to a Buffalo News report back on August 14, 2011, one month before he "retired" September 15, while School Board discussed  how to terminate his contract.

Photo credit: Buffalo News

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Former superintendent of buffalo schools, James A. Williams candidate for Duval County superintendent in Jacksonville, Florida

Former superintendent of the Buffalo Public Schools, James A. Williams is looking for work again. He has applied for the position of  superintendent in the Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville, Florida.
Williams  decided to "retire"  from the Buffalo Schools allegedly after an evaluation from the School Board that wasn't  as favorable as his previous ones. And on September 2011, after a tumultuous six-year tenure in the Buffalo Schools he stepped down.
His application  for the superintendent of schools in Duval Jacksonville along with 30 others is subject to the Florida Sunshine Act, requiring that all applicant information be public and released to the media upon request.
So here is Williams' application, cover letter and resume for the Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools that had to be submitted by July 23, 2012. His responses to the five questions the Duval School Board identified as important qualities for a superintendent of schools are interesting most of them focus on his experiences in the Buffalo Public Schools from 2005-2011. 
Question number 5 had to do with: "A person of integrity who is trustworthy and whose relationship, with the board and across the district, are predicated on honest and open communications." Here is how he responded:
"As a district leader, I was able to realize the benefits of honest and open communication. Collective bargaining agreements were settled leading to an increase in job satisfaction and commitment, student test scores and graduation rates increased, discipline and student suspensions decreased, personnel quality improved, effective community and business partnerships expanded, equity in facilities and student access increased and district systems and supports improved."
30 apply for Duval superintendent, including former Ribault principal |

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dr. Pamela Brown signs contract

Dr. Pamela Brown is officially Superintendent Brown after she signed her contract at the board meeting last night.  Photo credit:BPS

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Concerns about "distinguished educator" discussed at school board meeting tonight

From Buffalo News live coverage of meeting as bogged by Mary Pasciak.

Johnson: I feel that we need to discuss this more thoroughly with our commissioner and we're the guinea pig. We're the first to have a distinguished educator. We're also the first district to have a federal constraint over us as a focused district.

Mary Pasciak:  Putrino: We're bound by specific state regulations. Within those terms, our hands our somewhat tied. Along the lines of those regulations, our hands are somewhat bound. But we do have some discretion to negotiate. One of the areas we can negotiate is salary.

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judge rules in favor of school board, Dr. Pamela Brown appointment remains!

Judge Donna Siwek ruled in favor of School board in Paladino vs Petrucci as per Mary Pasciak while blogging live school board meeting tonight. More on this later.

Judicial decision expected today, Paladino vs Petrucci...buffalo board of education

Judge Donna Siwek, State Supreme Court, decision expected today in the Carl Paladino special Article 78 Proceeding before the Buffalo Board of Education meets tonight. At this board meeting it is expected Superintendent elect Dr. Pamela Brown will accept and sign her contract. There is no legal precedent for any judicial body to prohibit a school board from carrying its statutory duty of appointing a superintendent of school. It's judicial discretion to issue a remedy if the Buffalo Board of Education violated the Open Meeting Law, but not to stop it from fulfilling its legal powers under NYS Education Law section 2503. If anything, as the courts ruled in a similar case, if the board violated the law, order them to attend a training with the Open Government Committee group.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Dr. Brown's appointment as superintendent hardly doubtful judge rules it null and void

The case of Zehner v Board of Education of Jordan-Elbridge Central School District on February 12, appears similar to the Carl Paladino Article 78 allegation in part based on a prior lower court ruling when plaintiff alleged the appointment of the interim superintendent in executive session null and void. There was no violation at the meeting where it happened so it was not considered in the case of the lower court.
The Appellate Court  found the board in the Zehner case merely recitation of the statutory language in section 105(1) of the  Open Meeting Law (OML) was not sufficient. They must specify the "personnel" matter discussed in the executive session. If they go into executive session to discuss the appointment of the superintendent, it must say this is the reason not simply "personnel" matter.
Besides having to pay  the attorney fees, the board in this case had to attend training by the Committee on Open Government.
It was cited in Zehner that, "the law is well-settled that fixing the appropriate remedy for a public body's actions in violation of the OML is expressly a matter of judicial discretion."

Hence, in the Paladino Article 78 Proceeding it will be   the State Supreme Court Justice hearing the case judicial discretion to fix the appropriate remedy if there has been any violation of OML. It's hardly doubtful he'll order the appointment of Dr. Pamela Brown and her appointment as consultant until her contract is negotiated null and void.
Yet, Paladino complaint goes beyond just the Open Meeting Law in the media alleging in an interview that Dr Brown is not qualified to be superintendent because she lacks management and administration experience as reported in the Buffalo News.
 Dr. Brown's resume shows she has administrative and management experience refutes his allegation. Also, he alleges the board gave Dr. Brown preference because she is African-American. Though it was not a criteria for hiring her, the district is 80% minority students and her candidacy appropriate to the demographics in the district beyond her competency over the other candidates.
 And Paladino called the board "incompetent" keep "hiring  incompetents...  someone from someplace else." Just because a candidate is from another state doesn't mean they are incompetent.
He blamed the five African-American women on the board primarily responsible for hiring Dr. Brown though the vote was 7-2 with Ralph Hernandez, West District Rep. and John Licata, at Large Rep. voting for her appointment and they are not African-Americans. Hernandez is Puerto Rican and Licata, an Italian American so her appointment was not strictly done along racial lines.
Dr. Brown is far from incompetent and is one of the more competent superintendent's the Buffalo Board of Education ever hired of any ethnic group. Her appointment was supported by the leaders in the Latino community including the professionals in education because of her fluency in the Spanish language and background in bilingual education both as a teacher and administrator.
The case is set for Wednesday, July 11,  in State Supreme Court, the same day the board and Dr. Pamela Brown are suppose to agree on a contract.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Latin Night of Music returns at Kleinhans

Latin Night of Music returns at Kleinhans

Paladino may be right board violated open meeting law, but wrong to stop the hiring of Superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown

Dr. Pamela Brown, Superintendent-elect, Buffalo Schools: Photo WBEN

Carl P. Paladino, former GOP candidate for governor of New York has commenced an Article 78 legal proceeding  in State Supreme Court trying to oust Dr. Pamela Brown from a superintendent post she's yet to officially occupy. Instead the board hired her as a consultant until the contract deal is completed.

Buffalo News story today reported:
Paladino is asking the court to rule Brown's hiring and the transitional agreement null and void. He also wants the court to declare the creation of the consultant's position null and void, as well as declare the board's actions to be in violation of the Open Meetings Law.
Mr. Paladino may be correct in his allegations there should have been more transparency and compliance with the Open Meeting Law. But that is the problem not the appointment of Dr. Pamela Brown who is "properly qualified person to fill the position" of the superintendent of Buffalo Schools.

Nevertheless, under New York State Education Law, under the Powers and duties of  board of education 2503 (5) appointing a superintendent and "creating positions...for the proper and efficient administration of its work" is one of the fundamental duties of a board of education.

Perhaps, that's why as the Buffalo News reported, "the clause that would prevent Brown from making any decisions as superintendent as as a consultant until next week's hearing was crossed out in the court papers, indicating State Supreme Court Justice Timothy J. Drury did not agree to that."

The courts can not take this power away from the school board, but insist in the future the board comply with the Open Meeting Law allow the pubic to be involved when they select a superintendent in the future not only at just one board meeting but transparency in the whole process from the selection of the consultants, interviewing the candidates to the appointment of a superintendent.

But where was Paladino on Saturday, January 18, when the Buffalo Board of Education held a public meeting in the Board room at 801 City Hall to allow the public an opportunity to be present when they selected a consultant for the superintendent search? Only three showed up and only one stayed by the time the interviews were concluded. Paladino was not in the audience.

Certainly, it does not stop the board from continuing with contract negotiations with Dr. Brown and that process should be completed before the court hearing.

Puerto Rican/Latino students racial gap continues the same

Last month Buffalo News education blogger, Mary Pasciak blogged about "Buffalo's growing racial gap: How big is it at your high school?" based on the data the state released on the class of 2011. "The racial gap for graduation rates in Buffalo has gotten slightly worse over the past few years," she wrote. The African-Americans graduation rates for the class of 2011 in 4 years was 52%,   64% for whites, Hispanics, 44% and Asians, 51%.

While the gap between blacks and whites increased only two points from 10 to 12, for Puerto Rican/Latino students it stayed the same at 20 points. Although Puerto Rican/Latino students had a higher graduation rate at three schools--Hutch Tech, international Prep,  Performing Arts and Riverside, their enrollment  and graduation rates district-wide was far worse than blacks and whites.

That Puerto Rican/Latinos have 44% graduation rate for the class of 2011 is shameful, but there are other stats as well such as the report "Raising the Academic Achievement of English Language Learners in the Buffalo Public Schools," the Council of Great City Schools wrote in the winter 2009/2010 that revealed less that one quarter of its English Language Learners or 21%  graduate from Buffalo high schools. And since Puerto Ricans composed the highest population of these students in the district 49.4% from 2008-2009 data, it shows their graduation rates are even lower overall than 44% when this language factor is considered.

The other discrepancy is the enrollment of Puerto Rican/Latino Students at the higher performing schools such as City Honors only 7 in the class of 2011, so small the graduation rate wasn't calculated in the data. Overall, they are underrepresented in the high performing schools and over represented in the lower performing high schools. Why? Why only 7 Latinos at City Honors with an enrollment of 125 in the class of 2011? Similarly, why only 18 at Leonardo da Vinci from a class of 100 students, 38 blacks and 50 whites?

Even Hutch Tech, a high performing vocational/technical high school enrolled only 29 Puerto Ricans/Latinos while black and white enrollment was 140 and 101 respectively. Yet, the 29 Latino students had a higher graduation rate at 86% compared to 83% black and 80% white, still way above the district average.

The stats at the charter schools the more shameful for Puerto Ricans/Latinos for the class of 2011, only  a total  of 22 enrolled in Buffalo Academy Science Charter, Oracle, Tapestry and WNY Maritime Charter Schools.

The founders of Tapestry submitted proposals to State Ed requesting to turn two Buffalo schools into charter, East and Waterfront in a Buffalo News report June 30, 2011 that irked the Buffalo board members.

Steven Polowitz, one of these founders said, the Buffalo schools "...don't have capacity to provide decent educational alternatives to (" attending failing schools..."), but what are they providing to Puerto Rican/Latinos and ELL students when they don't even enrolled them and there is a large population of them at Waterfront one of the schools they proposed to take the reins turn into a charter school. What experience do they have with this population when they don't even enroll them in the charter school they operate? Yet, they want to be the ones initiating change?

New Super elect Dr. Brown with extensive training and work experiences with second language students especially Spanish-speaking ones has the background to not only address this issue but implement some of the recommendations of the Council of Great City Schools report still dormant since it appeared in 2010.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Dr. Pamela Brown is in town moved into the superintendent office

Dr. Pamela Brown appointed superintendent of Buffalo Schools at last Wednesday's board meeting moved into the Super's office this week on the 7th floor of City Hall, while still negotiating her contract expected to be "signed, sealed and delivered" according to new School Board President Mary Ruth Morrow Kapsiak by next board meeting July 11.

Mary Pasciak Buffalo News blogger, described the new superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown as poised and very pleasant at the  20-minute interview with the press.  Dr. Brown has been hired as a consultant paid $800 daily as part of her transition plan, including expenses while she negotiates her contract with the district attorney.  Amber Dixon continues to run the district signing contracts though Dr. Brown initializes them.

There may be too many chefs in the kitchen---Commissioner John B. King, Jr. appointed a "distinguished educator" to the Buffalo Schools expected to be on board in August, serving as an ex-officio member of the Buffalo Board of Education as well. And Amber Dixon is still an interim superintendent irked the school board members in a  press interview last week in the Buffalo News when she alleged the board passed her over because "... this board has decided the job I did for [nine] months wasn’t adequate.” Board member Ralph Hernandez wanted to go on the record voting against the transition plan for Dr. Brown though he voted to appoint her superintendent of the Buffalo Schools.


Mary Ruth Morrow Kapsiak new board president to focus on improving student achievement, attendance, graduation rates

Mary Ruth Morrow Kapsiak
is the newly elected president of the Buffalo Board of Education. In a 6 to 3 vote, the former school board president in 2007 took the reins once again from outgoing president Louis Petrucci.  Kapsiak said, "our first priority is to keep kids in school. I know if they are in school they would graduate."
So she plans to focus on "improving student achievement, attendance, and graduation rates." She will be looking at the test scores, and student attendance weekly and monthly to see how the district is progressing. West District Rep. Ralph Hernandez nominated Kapsiak second by East District Rep. Sharon Belton Cottman. 
John Licata at Large member, and North District Jason McCarthy nominated Petrucci. Buffalo News education blogger Mary Pasciak covered the annual organizational meeting today where members of the board vote for the president, vice-president, VP of executive affairs, and VP for student achievement. Pasciak cited the presence of Mrs. Hernandez  at the meeting, a premonition that Hernandez was vying for a post on the board. And East District Rep. Rosalyn Taylor nominated Hernandez 2nd by at-Large Rep. Dr. Barbara Seals Nevergold. He was unanimously voted VP of executive affairs. Taylor voted VP of student achievement.
Interim Superintendent Amber Dixon  presided at the meeting opened the floor for nominations, while Superintendent Elect, Dr. Pamela Brown sat in the board room in the section reserved for high level district officials such as chief financial officers and associates superintendents.

Whitney Tilson (3rd background)

Whitney Tilson (3rd background)
"Let’s be honest: we need a lot more well-off, well-educated white folks with a personal stake in both charter schools and education reform in general if we’re going to take reform to the next level, both politically and operationally.Whitney Tilson, hedge fund manager and major funding angel for the school privatizing Democrats for Education Reform, thinks there’s not enough rich, educated white folks.( Preaprez) click photo to his blog.

Arne Duncan

Arne Duncan
U.S. Secretary of Education, click photo