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Parent group speaks up about concerns at McKinley High

Mike Desmond

A fight between a McKinley High School teacher and a student has put the teacher out on Workers Compensation and the student facing felony charges.AA group of community leaders held a news conference Monday to attack a perception at the school that black males are failing students under a failing black principal.

Marck Abraham has been in the principal's office since Crystal Barton was suspended. Intially she was involved in a controversary over treatment the treamtent LGBTQ students. But later it was learned that Barton has been on paid suspension since May 2017 and according to the school district is "under investigation for $22,000 in potenetially questioable purchases she made using public funds."

Abraham is being attacked as a bad principal because he is black, said Duncan Kirkwood, external public advocate for the District Parent Coordinating Council (DPPC).
"In no way am I or any of the parent leaders condoning a student putting their hands on a teacher. That should never happen and there should be swift and strong punishment for any student that does," Kirkwood said. "However, the teacher provoked the student and provoked the situation."

The January 3rd incident is almost certain to come before the Buffalo School Board on Wednesday. The Buffalo Teachers Federation said it has to, while the school system said it does not.

Kirkwood and other community leaders say McKinley has a very high graduation rate for black males, something most people don't know, and there is an active effort to demean those students.

"When I'm looking at McKinley and I see that 87 percent of the black boys are graduating from high school, that looks like a success, not a problem. That looks like something that could be replicated, not something that should be denigrated. Right?" he said. "And I think that all of this largely stems from the way the former principal, who from everything I've heard about her was a great leader, was removed."

The Buffalo School District is investigating the matter at McKinley and issued a written statement to WBFO last week.

“Unfortunately, what is being portrayed in the media is incomplete and, therefore, inaccurate. The District will issue a full statement and any further disciplinary measures for the involved parties when our investigation is completed," stated the district.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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