BUFFALO – The Buffalo School Board voted Wednesday to terminate two high-ranking district administrators, just two weeks after the superintendent placed them on leave for lacking proper state certification.
Yamilette Williams and Faith Alexander both served as supervisors for the district, but they did not have New York certification as district leaders upon their hiring. Both had collected six-figure salaries, but the board's unanimous decision terminated their contracts "effective immediately."
"I want to be clear. This is solely based on their certification status," Superintendent Pamela Brown said. "We appreciate the contributions they've made to this district."
Williams and Alexander had supervisor certification in other states, and they even enrolled in SUNY Oswego classes to obtain "internship certification" as a way to retain their jobs in Buffalo. Brown said the internship certification would not suffice, however, especially since it would not fully restore their ability to work as district leaders without supervision of other employees.
"It ultimately came down to whether the internship certificate fully authorized them to execute all of the responsibilities of their roles," Brown said. "And that is not the case."
The board voted for termination after a lengthy executive session, which lasted for more than an hour behind closed doors. Before that executive session, board member Carl Paladino made a motion to open all discussion about Williams and Alexander to the public, but the board ultimately overruled him.
Brown said the district will take a hard look at its hiring policies and human resources department, although she did note that technically, it is an employee's responsibility to remain properly certified.
"By law, it is the job of the individual to have that certification, but that doesn't mean that we can't assist in that regard, and we've reviewed that process," Brown said. "This is an instance where more oversight should have taken place, which did not."
Board member James Sampson blamed the district as a whole, but "more the superintendent than anybody else." He went on record almost immediately that he would not support the re-hiring of Williams and Alexander.
"We are a public institution. This is an elected body. I think people are looking at us to be good stewards of their trust," Sampson said. "When we behave this way, I think the public has the right to say, 'you're violating that trust.'"