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Emerson principal backs out of public appearance

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The principal of Emerson High School has been in the center of the Buffalo School District's controversy of trying to select the next district leader. Principal James Weimer backed away from becoming school board's majority choice as the next superintendent. He faced personal attacks after word surfaced that his wife conducted legal work for board member Carl Paladino. As WBFO'S Focus on Education Reporter Eileen Buckley reports Weimer pulled out of a public appearance Wednesday because of the turmoil.

"We originally planned to have Jim Weimer, but because of all the publicity and everything that is coming on Jim has decided to take kind of a low profile," said Kate Bukowski, Board Member with Working for Downtown.

Bukowski made that statement at the start of the organization's Talks Speaker Series at the downtown Central Library.  A small audience gathered to learn about the culinary school's success.  But Working for Downtown's board member Bukowski received an email from Weimer declining to appear. 

"We had scheduled Jim to be here probably six months ago," stated Bukowski following the event.  "I think because of there's so much press he has been getting he decided to keep a low profile and sent someone who I think is very capable and did a great job." 

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Kate Bukowski explaining why James Weimer decided not to appear at speaker event.

Instead Weimer sent his assistant principal and Lenny Dowell, an Emerson culinary instructor to conduct the conversation.

WBFO News asked Dowell if it has been a distraction for school staff or students with Weimer in the spotlight. "No, no because we still have to service the people. You know at the end of the day our mind focus back onto the guest. Mr. Weimer is not a person that seeks limelight. He's never in the forefront of anything we try to do. He's always just behind pushing the growth of the school from an internal  state and he always tries to promote the kids, so it hasn't been distracting to us," said Dowell.   

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Weimer sent his assistant principal and Lenny Dowell, a culinary instructor to conduct the conversation at the Central Library.

The Emerson School on Chippewa has been so successful plans are underway to open up a second location in Larkinville.   The students learn about the culinary world and receive hands on experience -- but are still required to maintain their academics and regents.

Emerson leaders say it is in one of the 'most sought' after schools in the district, with 600 8th graders applying.

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