School officials lacking certification enrolled in Oswego program in Jan.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Yamilette Williams and Faith Alexander Morrison have been participating in a superintendent leadership program offered by SUNY Oswego since January.

Both women, who hold doctorate degrees, were put on leave last week by Schools Superintendent Dr. Pamela C. Brown because they lack state certification for their high level district positions.

Board critics say they are no longer district employees because they lack state certification.

By enrolling in the Oswego program Williams and Morrison were able to apply to the state for internship certifications.

A spokesman for the state Education Department late Friday said Williams and Morrison have applied for the internship certification but no decision has been made on whether to issue them.

Both have conditional certificates as principals in New York State. They lack district level certification.

Williams was hired August 5 as the district’s $130,000 chief of curriculum, assessment and instruction. Morrison joined the district on July 22 as chief of leadership.

Both are key members of Brown’s cabinet. They were hired as part of a district reorganization directed by Deputy Superintendent Mary E. Guinn.

The Oswego program, known as the New York State Superintendent Development Program, meets on weekends and continues through December.

Dr. Glenn Wachter, an associate professor of education administration who oversees the program, said Williams and Morrison have been participating in the program since it began in January. He said the nine-credit program is intensive and requires regional meetings, out of class work and papers. He said he recommended to the state that Williams and Morrison be issued the internship certification.

Even if the state issues the certificates, the Buffalo Board of Education would have to approve their return to the district.

They would also have to take state exams for permanent certification. Both hold certifications from other states.

Elena Cala, district spokesperson, said the issue was put on hold pending the state’s decision.

The timing on the women’s enrollment in the program is telling because Superintendent Brown insists that she had recently learned that Williams and Morrison lacked state certification.

News 4 Investigates obtained an e-mail that Brown had sent to board members on Saturday after she had put Williams and Morrison on leave. Brown said she had been informed that both had the proper certification.

“At no time did I approve supporting their involvement in a leadership development program so that they could qualify for proper certification. This was never a consideration because – again – I thought they were already properly certified.”

Cala, the district spokesperson, late Friday reiterated that the certification issue “recently came” to Brown’s attention.

She also confirmed that the Oswego program is being funded by the taxpayers through a professional development grant. The total cost is nearly $13,000.

Asked in an e-mail whether Brown supports returning Williams and Morrison to full-time district employment with the internship certification, Cala wrote: “Dr. Brown is taking this recently obtained information into consideration at this time.”

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