Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Buffalo Schools at the Crossroads: A Hostile Takeover by the New Majority Majority

In my opinion, the Buffalo Schools are at the crossroads of a hostile takeover.  Before you respond by thinking/saying that’s an absurd statement or an irresponsible assertion, I ask you to consider the following.  If there was any notion that the New Majority Majority (Carl Paladino, Jason McCarthy, Larry Quinn, Pattie Bowers Pierce and James Sampson) was going to ease into their hostile takeover of the Buffalo Schools, think again.  And remember that their actions are not racist or sexist in tone and tenor – since that will be the first thing they will deny as they accuse the African American women on the Board of playing the race card.  But, take a look at the evidence and decide for yourself if the actions they are taking are not privileged and dismissive of the four other votes on the Board.

If you don’t think there’s a hijacking going on, what do you think about these actions being taken by the New Majority Majority Board?  First, less than 24 hours after the swearing in of President James Sampson, Vice Presidents Jason McCarthy and Dr. Theresa Harris-Tigg, along with returning at Large Board Member, Dr. Barbara Seals Nevergold and new Board members, Larry Quinn and Patti Bowers-Pierce, Mr. Sampson circulated via email a six page “Vision Statement”, which he described as being a document to “guide discussions ….” about the direction of the District.  Yet, before any discussion could begin, on the 6th July, Mr. Sampson sent out another email, detailing his decision to hire former BOCES Superintendent Donald Ogilvie as the new Interim Superintendent, for a two year term at a salary of $217,000 per year.

When did Mr. Sampson, and perhaps others interview Mr. Oglivie?  Without the knowledge or full involvement of the entire Board.  When was the deal negotiated and who participated?  Again, without the full involvement of the Board members.  Mr. Sampson tries to justify this fiat by stating that two months had passed since Dr. Brown’s departure was known with little progress toward hiring an Interim, yet attempts to get the Board to work on a transition plan were met with resistance and ultimately nothing happened.  Also this insistence that time is of the essence ignores the fact that there is an Interim in place who is very knowledgeable about the District, much more than Mr. Ogilvie!

Along with the appointment of the new Interim, Mr. Sampson has decreed that the structure of the Board meetings will be changed.  Gone are the Board recognitions.  Gone are the Superintendent updates.  Very soon, the plan is to remove the Public Comments section from the Board meeting and place them in a new community forum format.

Don’t forget that four years ago that Mr. Ogilvie was prominently touted as a candidate for the interim superintendent position supported not only by some board members but by the Regent Emeritus and presumably by the Commissioner, Dr. John King.  Note, that the Interim position is being given for two years, the same amount of time that Dr. Pamela Brown was given as the Superintendent. And now, having retired so fortuitously at the time when his services are so need in Buffalo, Mr. Ogilvie is ready, willing and supposedly able to take over this District and turn it around.

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