The Buffalo Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, January 11th was marked by a huge community presence. Parents, students, and education activists gathered to rally against the Buffalo Public Schools suspension policy, and discuss the lack of progress on improving the policy since the death of Jawaan Daniels, a Lafayette student who was shot after landing an out of school suspension for a non-violent offense. Board members handled the public comments, which ranged from aggressive to cooperative, well and were engaged in the listening process.
Buffalo ReformED‘s Board of Education report card is aimed at monitoring school board meetings, and increasing transparency and accountability within the district.
Although they followed their agenda closely, not all board members were active participants in discussions on agenda items. Complaints were raised on certain contract awards, but board members failed to hold staff and administration accountable to produce more information to understand the apparent discrepancies in similar contract awards. Only the Executive Affairs committee and Health Committee were reported information of substance or actions taken. The Executive Affairs committee is considering a resolution to allow for a non-voting student member to sit on the Board of Education, while the Health committee is re-writing the student health policy.
Buffalo ReformED finds that the committee process is flawed and lacks transparency. Issues get sent to committee with no apparent timeline our mechanism to avail the public of progress made, and the reports are informal and inconsistent. While board members were respectful and stayed on task, there is a tendency to focus on low level issues, while failing to impose accountability and measures of progress on key areas such as student achievement, new teacher evaluation regulations, and school improvement plans.