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School board appoints HR chief as interim superintendent

Avery Schneider

At what started out as a relatively orderly meeting of the Buffalo School Board Wednesday night, board members voted to appoint an interim superintendent. Current Associate Superintendent for Human Resources Darren Brown will take over for outgoing interim Donald Ogilvie on July 1.

Brown says he is confident that he is being set up for success, with support from the school board.

“They told me that anything I need to be successful, we’ll have a discussion about,” said Brown. “It won’t all be given, I’m sure, but they want the district to be successful. So I have a strong team here in central office. My HR team is fully behind me. My senior level team, my colleagues are fully behind me. So I know that we will work effectively to make sure that we keep the train on the tracks, headed in the right direction.”

Credit Avery Schneider / WBFO News
Darren Brown outlines his priorities for attention in the short-term.

Brown made it clear that, as of now, he has no interest in becoming the district’s permanent superintendent. But he says he is prepared to serve as interim for as long as his services are needed.

School Board President James Sampson says he is pleased with the board’s choice.

“I’m glad that Darren has raised his hand and stepped up to help us through this period. He knows the district. He knows it well. He has a lot of respect, obviously, on the board and in the schools and in the community. So I think we’re going to be in good hands,” said Sampson.

Not everyone was so fully satisfied. Majority bloc board member Carl Paladino remained silent as his counterparts voted to appoint current Brown. Prior to the vote, he explained why.

“I’m not going to vote for Darren Brown as interim superintendent because I believe that this board can appoint a permanent superintendent with all of the information that it presently has,” said Paladino.

Sitting next to Paladino in the crowded board room at City Hall, minority bloc members Dr. Theresa Harris-Tigg and Mary Ruth Kapsiak both said just the opposite. They say the board has not seen enough information on the seven applicants still in the running, and that the selection process is flawed. Without a set timeframe on choosing a permanent replacement, Harris-Tigg says Brown’s appointment is an appropriate and responsible move.

Outside the board room, Paladino went on to clarify his position, noting that he has nothing against Brown’s appointment, itself.

“Darren’s a great guy. Darren will be a great interim. There’s no question about it,” said Paladino. “It doesn’t have anything to do with Darren. It has to do with keeping a focus on the ball, and the ball is appointing a permanent superintendent so they can hit the ground running. Kevin Eberle is obviously my choice.”

Eberly is the current principal of Harvey Austin School 97. He is one of three candidates internal to the district still in the running.

Board President James Sampson says there’s still information to be reviewed and interviews to be conducted. He says the selection process could be short long.

Avery began his broadcasting career as a disc jockey for WRUB, the University at Buffalo’s student-run radio station.
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