Just days before the North Tonawanda mayoral election, Channel 2 reached out to Mayor Art Pappas and James McGinnis, to speak on two topics of concern to the community recently: youth violence and bullying.
The Mayor's administrative assistant told Channel 2 Monday morning that Pappas would not be able to do an on camera interview. He did however call the station at 4:03 p.m. We attempted to return his phone call, but were unable to reach him.
2 On Your Side was able to connect with McGinnis over the phone, "I don't think the current administration, meaning the mayor's office and the city council, did an adequate job investigating it or communicating with the school district, once they established the law."
McGinnis is referring to the anti-bullying law in North Tonawanda. It holds adults accountable for their children's actions by threatening parents with jail time and fines for repeat offenses. Mayor Pappas describes the law as a deterrent.
2 On Your Side spoke to Pappas and Police Chief Roger Zgolak last Monday, after the recent violence at North Tonawanda High School. It happened 10 days ago, on Friday, October 20th. A student was repeatedly punched in the face in the high school cafeteria.
The Police Chief told Channel 2 he doesn't believe the incident at the high school was a case of bullying.
Both he and the Mayor said they trust the school district to investigate and handle discipline.
"It certainly has to be looked at seriously by all of us because I consider the schools part of the community," Mayor Pappas told Channel 2 last Monday. "We're all working together to try to solve this problem."
"Immediately, I would have been over there," says McGinnis, explaining what he would have done if he was Mayor. "Okay, we've enacted this law. What are we gonna do? What are the tools we need? What are the processes that are in place that have to be implemented?"
The North Tonawanda Superintendent, Greg Woytila, tells Channel 2 there are school counselors available should students need them.