BUFFALO, N.Y. — Only eight eighth-graders were set to graduate from Lydia T. Wright School on Wednesday morning and move onto ninth grade.
When parents spoke up, that jumped to 17.
Now, a spokesperson from Buffalo Public Schools says the number is even higher with 39 students.
It turns out Tuesday was the first time that many Buffalo Public School board members were also hearing about this. Now they've got some work to do.
"I will say that when I heard this first yesterday, it was very surprising just because of the sheer number. I know that if this was occurring at one of my child's schools, I would be very concerned and upset as well," said Lou Petrucci, president of the school board.
And plenty of parents are upset, mostly with the way they feel the school failed to notify them.
"There is a portal that you go on, but I got a house to run. I work, and I go on it every now and again, but to see that, you don't take the initiative. If I'm calling you, that means I've seen something that means we need to dialogue," said Lakiesha Seales, whose child attends Lydia T. Wright School.
A dialogue that she says was never started. Petrucci says typically the district will send multiple notifications throughout the year.
Petrucci says the BPS administration is looking into what caused the low graduation rates at Lydia T. Wright School, and it will be trying to get as many kids as possible onto ninth grade next year.
"What the district has been doing is meeting with both parents, students and staff to see what they can do, to see who we can accommodate to get through to moving up this academic year," he said.
Petrucci says another graduation ceremony will happen Friday, saying the board should have a total number of students graduating from the eighth grade by then. However, this is the statement the district sent to 2 On Your Side when asked if there would be a ceremony:
"There is currently no determination on Friday. Nothing has been confirmed."
A parent advocate has claimed part of the issue behind the low graduation numbers this year is because of COVID, transportation, and 35 percent of the only 65 eighth graders are getting suspended.
2 On Your Side asked Petrucci if that's a problem.
"Well it depends on what the reasons are. I really don't know what the reasons are. To your point though, yeah," he said. "Because we shouldn't have a suspension rate that high ... after the press conference (Tuesday), I know that many of us (board members), there's been a series of conversations and emails going back and forth to figure out how this happened and what we can do."