BUFFALO, N.Y. — Addressing the increasing number of violent incidents in the Buffalo School District remains a top priority for interim superintendent Dr. Tonja Williams.
Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts is the latest school to report violent behavior. Buffalo Police say several fights occurred during dismissal on Monday.
Two teachers were injured, one was transported to ECMC for evaluation - no arrests have been made at this time.
In a letter sent out to the district on Monday, Dr. Williams reinforced her commitment to open communication and transparency as it relates to school safety, calling the rise in cases, "deeply concerning."
Thus far, during her short time as a district leader, Dr. Williams has:
- Scheduled discussion with Mayor Byron W. Brown, regarding the District’s needs
- Met with two Board-approved parent groups, the District Parent Coordinating Council (DPCC) and the Buffalo Parent-Teacher Organization (BPTO), and meeting with the Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) this evening, to express the need for input from parents and encourage them to partner with the District to help achieve its safety goals
- Visited schools to ensure that all District safety procedures and protocols are being followed and will continue to visit moving forward
- Attended Sunday morning services at Friendship Baptist Church and Elim’s Christian Fellowship Church to communicate that support from parents and stakeholders is essential for the District to make progress
- Immediate Safety Plans presentation, including representatives from the NFTA and BPD at the Board of Education Meeting on March 16th,
- Created a letter outlining BPS safety measures and expectations and disseminated it districtwide (see attached) to all parents and caregivers
- Created a survey to be completed by every Buffalo Public School Leadership Team assessing the current safety and security measures in each school
- Authorized the immediate procurement of gold-standard Walkie Talkies for District schools
- Hired additional BPS School Security Officers
- Assessing safety and transportation needs on First Student buses to implement a plan to address human capital and structural adjustment needs
In addition, she has involved the school board in new school branding, titled, "Moving To The Next Level," which focuses on district-wide pillars like safety & wellness, relationship building, and innovation.
Starting March 28th, Dr. Williams will kick off a new series called, "Conversation & Coffee." An in-person listening tour will be hosted at 8 different locations throughout the district in an effort to highlight the need for community input.
School Board Member Larry Scott tells 2 On Your Side, it's refreshing to have a leader who walks the walk, not just talks the talk.
"I'm seeing in daily communication with the Board of Education, communication with the community, with parents with stakeholders, that she is being quite responsive to the concern that we have with safety, in particular with about a half a dozen of our schools, but also just district-wide," Scott explains.
The school district released this statement Monday night:
The District is highly concerned and disturbed by the incident that occurred and is fully committed to working with our community partners to eliminate all acts of violence in our schools and the communities that surround them. The police have been contacted and we are fully complying with their protocols and procedures. As this is an active investigation, we are not able to comment further.
For more information on upcoming events related to the Buffalo Public School District, visit www.BuffaloSchools.org.