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School board infighting continues

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

A special meeting of the Buffalo Board of Education turned into a bit of a chaotic session Wednesday. WBFO's Eileen Buckley says once again there was plenty of controversy in a more than three-hour session.

City school board members argued over a complaint filed by the board minority with the State Education commissioner.  The complaint says north District board member Jason McCarthy allegedly violated school board rules by releasing information form a past executive session that allegedly shared with the some of the media. It calls to remove him from office.
McCarthy has hired an attorney, but now the question of who pays for his legal fees is an issue. That caused a heated debate. The situation turned confusing at times as they attempted to vote on a resolution. McCarthy rescued himself, but then voted anyway.

"He voted. This is illegal," said one of the minority board members during the session. An attorney siting in the audience jumped up to advise sparking even more debate.

"I don't think the board resolved that today. What they decided is general counsel and myself would select an attorney to review the actions that occupied probably an hour and a half today to find out what occurred and what the next steps would be," said Interim Superintendent Donald Ogilvie.

Ogilvie said he was disappointed at the time spent on the topic.

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Buffalo School Board met for more than three hours Wednesday.

"I would love to spend even a half-an-hour, an hour, hour-and-a-half sharing the good things that are happening in the Buffalo Public Schools. We will reach that point, and it will be sooner than later," said Ogilvie.

The School Board approved the appointment of of Linda Cimusz, who has an extensive background in education.  Cimusz once served as deputy superintendent in Syracuse School District and as a deputy commissioner of education in Texas. She worked as an assistant superintendent for the Williamsville District where she retired in 2011. 

Cimusz currently serves as director of Academics at Sacred Heart Academy in Amherst. Cimusz told reporters she believes in holding people accountable for results, but offers lead way with how to achieve success. She helped turn around a failing school in Syracuse and improved a 12 percent dropout rate.

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Linda Cimusz will serve as the new chief academic officer for the Buffalo Public School District. She talked with reporters Wednesday.

"We got off the state list. Our academics also went up. It wasn't perfect," "But we made some good headway," said Cimusz.  

Cimusz said she won't be making quick decisions until she examines Buffalo's situation.

WBFO News asked Ogilvie, who recommended the hiring  of Cimusz, what would be the first thing he would like her to tackle with the troubled district.

"Right now there's so much that needs to be brought to her awareness in terms of the programs we have. We will be making principal assignments within the next couple of weeks. We're e hope Linda would have a voice in that, but if not, she will get to know them.  Within  the next few days I'm hoping she will meet with me and our priority school principals," said Ogilvie.

Cimusz fills the position left vacant when the district removed Yamilette Williams from the job for failure to have proper certification.