According to Buffalo News Reporter Tiffany Lankes, who had an extensive interview today with WNED journalist Eileen Buckley (June 16, 2015), NYS Education Commissioner Elect, MaryEllen Elia has spoken with some Buffalo Board of Education members. Here we go again! Former Commissioner, Dr. John King granted an audience to Board member James Sampson and Board member elect Larry Quinn last year, without the knowledge of then Board members. And we have yet to receive a report about that meeting or the promises/decisions resulting from this encounter. Now, we have a new Commissioner, who has not even taken office yet but has determined that some Buffalo Board of Education members should have the privilege to communicate with her, while others are excluded and left in the dark. Sounds like Déja Vue all over again. It was reported that former Regent Robert Bennett arranged the 2014 meeting with Commissioner King. Is Mr. Bennett also involved in arranging the “conversation” with Ms. Elia and the selected Board members? And what was the subject of the conversation?
If Commissioner Elect Elia plans to create a new model for community engagement, including reaching out to Boards of Education, the report of this exclusive interaction does not communicate a new direction for SED or the Commissioner. Members of the minority bloc on the Buffalo Board of Education would welcome the opportunity to talk with Ms. Elia; to convey our concerns and to seek ways to work collaboratively with her in the best interests of our students. However, if the Commissioner Elect has decided to initiate her tenure by excluding the minority members of the Board this action sends the message that our perspectives, our experiences, our knowledge and our insight are not valued or desired.
We are reaching out to the Commissioner Elect and invite her to respond to an invitation to engage in inclusive and productive conversation with all the Board members. Ms. Elia, we look forward to hearing from you, at your earliest convenience.
Board members: Barbara A. Seals Nevergold, PhD, Sharon Belton-Cottman, Theresa Harris-Tigg, PhD, Mary Ruth Kapsiak