BUFFALO – At a news conference Monday afternoon, Buffalo Schools Superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown says she plans to "stay the course" and will not be taking a buyout offer reportedly being put forth by members of the local business community.
Without mentioning any names, Superintendent Brown says there are those out there who "are trying to brand the district as a failure" . Saying "we are seeing progress", the city's chief educator cited rising graduation rates and 44 of 53 schools in the district being rated as "effective" or "highly effective" as evidence. When asked if she had the support of Mayor Byron Brown, Dr. Brown answered she hopes so.
Erie County legislator rushed to the defense of Superintendent Brown after it was revealed that Western New York business leaders have offered to buy out the remainder of Brown's contract in exchange for her resignation.
"I think it's disrespectful," said Betty Jean Grant, who represents the county's second district in the city of Buffalo. "I think it's an abuse of power and money."
In a statement released to the media this weekend, Brown reaffirmed her position as superintendent and touted the district's progress under her leadership.
"If anyone would threaten the continuation of this kind of progress with the discussion of a buyout or any other means of undermining the positive change that is underway, his/her motives should be questioned," the statement read in part.
Grant has been as vocal as anyone on behalf of Brown, who has faced repeated calls for her resignation since the election of board member Carl Paladino in the spring. Paladino, the former New York gubernatorial candidate, has made multiple motions to remove Brown from her position, all of which have failed so far. At a September meeting, just minutes before the board voted on her fate, Brown gave a passionate and animated speech and urged members they "should be acknowledging the progress that has been made in this district." Five of nine board members voted to retain Brown that night, enough for a majority.
In her statement this weekend, Brown also said she will "continue to concentrate my focus on the task of providing a world-class education to all of the children in Buffalo."
But Grant said Brown must do more to combat negative opinions of her administration.
"I think what she needs to do is really defend her position. I think she's been a little too quiet. If you're being attacked or demonized, I think you need to put your opinion forward. And put your agenda forward," Brown said. "In that instance, I think she's been a little bit too discrete."
In a letter circulated to the public, Paladino said he will make a motion at the next board meeting for the entire Board of Education to resign.
Any buyout of Brown would need to be authorized by the Board of Education. Brown's contract, which expires in July 2015, currently pays her an annual salary of $217,500.
"There are 10 people who decide whether the Superintendent goes. That's the Board of Education and the Superintendent herself. And until the board removes her, or until she says she wants to get out of her contract, they should leave the Board of Education and the Buffalo Public Schools alone," Grant said.