New BPS interim supt. says he will keep an open mind

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – It’s a rather steep learning curve for Donald Ogilvie, who must quickly familiarize himself with the inner workings of a billion dollar school district.

News 4 sat down with the new Buffalo interim school superintendent during his first day on the job.

“People have rallied around me. They’re sharing information that they feel that I need,” he said.

Wednesday night was a wrenching one for Ogilvie, who squeaked by with five votes to take the helm of New York’s second largest school district. Four of the nine board members abstained from voting when his name was brought up by board president James Sampson.

All who refused to cast votes were African American. They claimed they had been left out of the vetting process.

Board member Sharon Belton-Cottman raised the specter of racism.

“The four of us were targeted and we were not included in that conversation,” she said.

The five board members who voted for Ogilvie were white.

After the infighting subsided, the new interim superintendent acknowledged that the process could have been better handled.

Ogilvie said he will meet with the four board members who abstained.

“I made some commitments to people last night, all nine people, that we would be timely and share information with all the board members.”

The new head of of Buffalo schools is coming out of retirement as the former district superintendent for Erie 1 BOCES. His first priority is improving classroom instruction.

Buffalo teachers have been without a new contract for more than 10 years. He also faces a challenge from 3,000 students who want to be transferred out of failing schools.

“I’m a confident individual, I approach this thing without judgments, with a commitment to bringing people together,” Ogilvie said.

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