BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Dr. Terry Ross, the Bennett High School principal whose leadership skills had come under fire by many of the high school’s teachers, will soon be replaced.
News 4 has learned that Dr. Bert Stevenson, a 1986 graduate of Bennett, has taken over as interim principal.
- In January, a survey conducted by the teachers’ union gave Ross a failing grade
- In April, veteran teacher Nail Lange and special education teacher Anna Klapkais came forward to discuss serious concerns about Ross’s leadership
- A few days after that report aired, Lange says he was singled out as a way to try to intimidate and silence him
In a letter addressed to the “Bennett High School Family,” Stevenson calls on teachers to “reflect on your instructional goals for the upcoming school (year) to ensure that we work collectively to increase student achievement.”
He says he will “support and encourage” them but adds “I will count on you to go beyond tolerance and treat all members of our community with respect. A school that aspires to greatness can expect no less.”
Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore questioned the meaning of this last statement and whether there is an assumption that teachers have not been respectful in the past. Rumore adds that “BTF and the faculty look forward to working with Dr. Stevenson to undo the damage that was done under the prior administration.”
Under Dr. Ross’s leadership, teachers raised many safety issues, saying student fights had become almost a daily occurrence. Teachers and staff members had also complained that Ross showed little respect for some of his own faculty members.
Dr. Stevenson closes out his remarks by saying, “The entire administrative team and I are committed to ensure a quality education for all of our students. We understand that this will not be possible unless there is a safe and civil environment in place on the first day of school.”
Bennett High school has been reduced to a student body of about 450, and will not be accepting 9th graders in the fall. The school is in closing mode now and must be re-opened at some point as a new school with a new approach to education.