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Group of parents want Buffalo Public Schools to reconsider fall sports cancellation

Following the vote and decision to allow low-risk fall sports in Section VI, parents wonder if BPS will change its mind.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A group of parents at Public School 156 want Buffalo Public Schools to reconsider cancelling fall sports for a number of reasons.

At a captain's practice for the men's soccer team Thursday night, Gwen Howard said that when the decision came down Tuesday, she reacted as any parent would.

"We were stunned. We were absolutely stunned," Howard said.

She said her two sons, both seniors, were optimistic about having a season. While painfully aware of the challenges facing the district, they didn't expect a decision would come without parent or player input. 

"The decision was announced after the deadline to appear at the most recent school board meeting, so the school district announced the cancellation of the season, and there was no opportunity for parents to even weigh in at the school board meeting," Howard said.

Parents are required to register by noon the day before the district's Wednesday school board meetings. A news release about the announcement wasn't received by 2 On Your Side until 12:18 p.m. Tuesday.

"My frustration is the decision itself came without a more public conversation with parents and students," said Chris Marcello, who also has a son on the team.

On Tuesday, BPS Athletic Director Michael House said the decision made by the district was a matter of keeping students safe.

When asked about the possibility of starting low-risk sports such as soccer and golf, House said this:

"Logistically, in our district, we have 20 high schools, and so we also are presented with a lot of operational challenges that everyone's not aware of because of the magnitude and the volume, a high number of students and staff in our district," House said.

"So because of those operational challenges, we also felt that we need to err on the side of caution with the priority of safety for our students."

However, just a day later on Wednesday, Section VI athletics, which include the majority of Western New York school districts, but not BPS, announced it would allow low-risk sports to resume practice Monday. Section VI, however, left the decision to begin league play, to each district.

Which made Marcello and Howard wonder, would BPS ever reconsider their decision.

"I think all I can ask at this point is take a look at the decision Section 6 has made, again weigh the evidence, if it falls on the side of canceling fall sports then okay, but I think another look is worth consideration," Marcello said.

The district has made no indication of reversing the cancellation of falls sports in Buffalo as of the posting of this story.