Supt. Brown working on “amicable agreement” to leave district

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – At a news conference late Friday afternoon, Buffalo School Superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown announced she is working on reaching an “amicable agreement” with the Buffalo School Board for her departure.

News 4 has learned Brown’s attorneys have been working with the district’s attorneys on that separation.

Brown said she has decided it would be in the best interest of children to leave the district “due to the recent, persistent and baseless allegations” regarding her credibility as superintendent.

“After much thought, I have determined that it’s in the best interests of the children of this district, the community and myself, that I attempt to reach an amicable agreement with the school board for my departure,” Brown said. “Needless to say, my educational background and professional experience are well-documented.”

A new majority will take over the Buffalo School Board on July 1. Her biggest critic on the board, Carl Paladino, has previously stated he will introduce a motion on July 1 to terminate Brown’s contract without cause. She would then be entitled to collect her remaining year’s salary of $217,000. But he says if she resigns, she should be entitled to nothing.

“We haven’t yet funded the summer school program. We haven’t funded the after school program. We haven’t given sufficient funding to the physical education program. And now we’re going to go give money to Pamela Brown? The person who drove this thing further into the abyss? I don’t think so,” said Paladino.

It is possible for Brown to resign before July 1. Her predecessor, Dr. James Williams, resigned on September 15, 2011 and received a half year’s pay of $110,000, a consulting fee and health benefits.

School Board President Dr. Barbara Seals Nevergold said, “[Brown] has faced tremendous odds and tremendous criticisms unfairly, I think, in my instances. We still see success in the district in graduation rates, there’s success in lowering absenteeism and suspensions. We see success in actual student growth.”

With Brown’s imminent departure, the district will soon need to turn its focus to the search for a new superintendent.

Sam Radford, president of the District Parent Coordinating Council, says he hopes school board members understand what a critical decision that will be.

“I don’t think this is an issue of what’s on a person’s resume. At the end of the day, we need somebody who has done this job before, actually. This is a hard job; it’s not easy. We need somebody who has turned around a school district,” Radford told News 4 Friday.

Radford also said he believes collaboration – a real or perceived lack thereof – was Dr. Brown’s downfall. He thinks choosing a “dynamic leader,” someone who brings people together, has character, whom everyone can rally around, is most important.

“You need someone with a demonstrated track record of being able to lead… and being able to make a difference working with people. As an example, you look at ECMC and what happened with Jody Lomeo over there,” Radford said. “He did such a good job with ECMC, now he’s at Kaleida.”

And Radford explicitly said, race and gender should not be the deciding factors in selection of a new superintendent.

“Right now, I think we’ve really got to be disciplined about making sure we get the right person. You know, we’ve got a teachers’ contract that’s got to be settled. We’ve got a lot of issues to deal with, in terms of problems we’ve had with the State Education Department and that relationship there,” said Radford.

“I think we really, as a community, have to mature. There’s a lot of bad feelings about the race issues, the elections,” said Radford. “It has to get above all the ‘-isms’ that we’re talking about. The racism, the sexism; those ‘-isms’ [are] really biting us right now. We’ve got to figure out, either we’re going to fall into the trap of them, or we’re going to rise above them, and… do something that we can really all be proud of.”

In a separate issue, a State Supreme Court justice is expected to rule next week on whether Board President Dr. Barbara Seals Nevergold legally has the right to vote on board issues for the remainder of her current term.

A lawsuit was brought by Paladino saying Nevergold should have run for the seat she was appointed to, instead of serving out that term without being elected. She filled Chris Jacobs’ seat after he became the Erie County Clerk.

Nevergold has said no election was called for and believes she was not obligated to run at the time.

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