BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Buffalo School Board named Will Keresztes as temporary superintendent, Monday. He is the chief of student support services.
The Buffalo School Board voted 7-2 to buy out the last year of Dr. Pamela Brown’s contract totaling about $230,000, which is about what she would’ve received if she had stayed until the end of her contract plus $2,000 to consult her replacement over the next two months.
Brown also gets a letter of recommendation from the School Board President who speaks of her knowledge expertise, and track record of success boosting graduation rates by eight percentage points.
“Now that is highly improper,” according to Board member Carl Paladino, who voted against the buyout because of that letter. “There’s a lot of misstatements, exaggerations.”
Keresztes sees says he has nothing but respect for Dr. Brown. “I wish her very well, and I really believe there are a lot of successes for her here in Buffalo.”
Keresztes, who’s been Buffalo’s Chief of Student Support Services for the past seven years will now serve as Interim Superintendent until the new majority of the Board picks an Interim Superintendent sometime next month.
“We’d want to get this done as soon as we possibly can to make sure that there’s permanent leadership for the district,” said Board member James Sampson.
Keresztes wasted no time asking the Board to delay, by at least a year, the planned closure of MLK School. He also recommends the delay of a plan to merge Middle Early College into Math, Science & Technology High School. “We’re nowhere close to having the support from parents, students or teachers on any of these decisions. In the end, we’ve missed our target,” according to Keresztes.
Sampson believes it took a lot of courage and leadership for the newly appointed interim Superintendent to make those recommendations, but makes it clear he’s not looking for a permanent promotion.
“You know, you get to a point where the only thing that matters is doing good, not about the career-climb, and that’s where I’m at,” said Keresztes.
Two new school board members take office on July 1. It was widely known that the incoming majority would try to force Dr. Brown out. Those factors are believed to be the reason why the Superintendent accepted the terms of her resignation, and the letters of recommendation while the current majority was still seated on the board.
Dr. Brown announced her intentions to leave the district in May. She said she 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.
She was sworn-in as Buffalo’s new school superintendent on July 12, 2012. But just the day before, Paladino had gone to court to have the appointment overturned.
“When you cloak things in secrecy, and when you deny transparency, you get corruption. You get agendas and games being played,” he said.
At that time, Brown received broad support from the school board, but on May 7 last year, that would start to change as Paladino and James Simpson were elected to the board of education, vowing to make changes.
With controversy over Common Core standards and plans for getting Buffalo school children out of failing schools swirling out of control, on August 29, 2013 superintendent Brown caught fire from State Education Commissioner John King and Governor Andrew Cuomo threatening a state takeover.
Last October, the school board terminated the contract of the Cross and Joftus consulting firm after blistering criticism about the high cost, and questionable results. Then in March, Mary Guinn, who had been brought in by Cross and Joftus, was re-hired as interim deputy superintendent.
In April, two high ranking administrators who had been hired by Brown but later found to lack proper state certification were fired by the board.
The handwriting was pretty much on the wall when Larry Quinn and Patti Bowers were elected to the board on May 6 and 10 days later, Brown announced her intentions to leave.
“After much thought, I have determined that it is in the best interest 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,” she stated.
Brown has touted her two years in Buffalo for raising the city’s graduation rate, the percentage of high school graduates and lowering absenteeism. But her critics say she did not accomplish those things soon enough.