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Concerns grow about violence in Buffalo Public Schools

The school district is planning to add more security staff, and the Buffalo Police Department might assist with an increased presence in schools.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Since the violent incident at McKinley High School last month, concerns over security in all Buffalo schools are coming to the forefront for teachers and parents.

2 On Your Side spoke Thursday afternoon with the new interim school superintendent on how she plans to respond.

Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore has been collecting notes on recent incidents as they are reported to him by member teachers in his union, and from parents and the general school community.   

On a 14-year-old female student attacking a teacher Wednesday at Emerson Commons and Hospitality school, Rumore told us, "A teacher who sent a student to the office viciously attacked by a student from behind with two sharp objects."

On a stabbing assault between two elementary students at the Harvey Austin School, Rumore said, "A student said that this was going to be like McKinley and attached another student with a knife."

Then at Hutch Tech High School, he noted: "Schools that are supposed to have four security officers, because there are 1,200 students, only have two. And then yesterday one of of them left, so you had one security officer for 1,200 students."

And, of course, at McKinley High School, where a students was stabbed and security office was shot in February, Rumore said: "They still don't have alarms on the doors so students can open the door and let another student in. And I was just told this morning that there are holes in the ceilings where the cameras used to be, because they haven't installed new cameras yet."

All this hitting interim Superintendent Dr. Tonja Williams, who was just appointed last Wednesday to replace Kriner Cash.

"We have additional funding coming into our district," Williams said. "That is my priority, that safety and security will be prioritized, and so we will certainly be adding security officers in our schools. The City of Buffalo has offered to support whatever it is that we need.

"But we want to be strategic about what we need. And on my Day 6, we are looking and meeting with schools to find out specifically what are the needs in each of our schools." 

To follow through Mayor Byron Brown told 2 on Your Side: "I know that they have indicated to us that they have resources if police overtime is required, if additional police support is required, so we stand ready to assist the city school district with their public safety and security needs."

Brown says specifically designated community policing officers may also be trained to shift assignments and become school resource officers.

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