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Dispute with long-time principal resolved by Buffalo Public Schools

McKinley High School Principal Crystal Boling-Barton has been on paid administrative leave for nearly five years. The district said Monday she can return.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A long-time dispute between Buffalo Public Schools and McKinley High School principal Crystal Boling-Barton has been settled according to her attorney and a statement from the district.

Boling-Barton has also been told she can return to service.

The Buffalo School Board held a special meeting to "review and discuss" the settlement Monday night and "resolve pending litigation matters" involving their longtime on-leave principal. The board immediately entered an executive session, which was closed to the public. The finer details like how much the deal will cost the district are unknown at this time.

The settlement wraps up years of back and forth between the district and Boling-Barton, who has been at McKinley High School since the late 1980s but for nearly five years has been on paid administrative leave.

Rob Boreanaz is the union attorney for BPS administrators including Boling-Barton.

“I'm not sure if I would characterize her as pleased it has been a very long process,” Boreanaz said.

Boling-Barton was placed on paid administrative leave in May 2017 after the New York Civil Liberties Union claimed the school had discriminated against an LGBTQ student but months later that lawsuit was dismissed. Boling-Barton then asked to return to work but was accused of misusing funds "due to improper paperwork or not spending them according to the district’s policy." Those allegations were raised in 2019.

Boling-Barton had filed her own lawsuit however claiming the district and former Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash of discriminating against her.

As of Monday night Boreanaz said, “all of the grievances with respect to these matters are finalized and closed and now the district and the union can focus on a better relationship.”

In a statement Buffalo Public Schools Spokesperson Ka'Ron Barnes said:

“The district and Mrs. Barton have amicably resolved and settled various forms of litigation amongst them. As part of the settlement, Mrs. Barton, who is one of the longest-tenured and highly regarded principals in the district is eligible to immediately return to service at McKinley High School. Mrs. Barton is currently considering all of her options at this time. We are all very pleased to have finally put all these matters behind us and the district is appreciative and thankful to Principal Barton for all of her years of service.”

Boreanaz would not elaborate on the financial details of the resolution. 2 On Your Side has filed a Freedom of Information Law request with the district to obtain a copy of what was presented during Monday’s special school board meeting.

2 On Your Side was given a copy of the settlement agreement the following day.

While out on paid administrative leave Boling-Barton received an annual salary of over $130,000 according to the Empire Center’s public payroll tool. Boreanaz contends that Boling-Barton however lost out on years of “other financial earning potentials” such as overtime.

“In that respect, Mrs. Barton has been made whole,” Boreanaz said.

According to the settlement agreement, the district will pay Boling-Barton $200,000 for the "overtime and/or extra-activity payments that she would have earned during the specific time period of May 11, 2017 through the date of execution." This money will be subject to tax.

In addition, the district will pay $60,000 for Boling-Barton's attorney's fees and $15,000 to the BCSA union.

The district's offer to return to McKinley High School may prove to be a more difficult decision, when asked what Boling-Barton may be thinking, Boreanaz said.

“Mrs. Barton is a very private person, she will talk with her family and decide what her next steps are but the door is wide open for her at the district.”    

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