What Is Happening At Mckinley High School?
The Community Hour on Power 96.5 FM recently hosted guests seasoned educator Principal Crystal Barton and her attorney Mr. Robert Boreanaz. They addressed the issues surrounding Principal Barton’s being placed on administrative leave by the Buffalo School District in May of 2017.
Principal Barton was alleged to have made an announcement indicating that same sex couples could not attend McKinley’s Senior Prom and was put on leave. Just to clarify for your readers, Principal Barton is on paid administrative leave and an acting principal is also being paid which adds up to two salaries for the same job in a financially struggling school district. The charges were dismissed but Principal Barton still remains on leave.
The purpose of this letter is to bring to light what is really going on at McKinley High School in the absence of their formidable leader, Principal Barton and to urge the Board of Education to return her to her position.
The Superintendent wants to make it appear as if things are going quite well at McKinley in Principal Barton’s absence. This is absolutely not the case as evidenced in the “Vote of No Confidence” against the current Acting Principal at McKinley High School, Marck Abraham. This vote was issued by the Buffalo Teachers Federation (BTF) on behalf of the teachers at McKinley High School. There are many reasons why this vote was issued. Take a look at the data: how many staff members have left McKinley or taken a forced and/or voluntary leave of absence to avoid the current mess at McKinley? To make matters worse, teachers were directed by acting principal Abraham to reduce discipline referrals by 25% so I guess teachers are supposed to ignore most of the District Code of Conduct violations by students just as he does. Anyone with common sense would know that you must treat all students the same, consistency is one of the keys to having a well run school.
Soon after the BTF made public the fact that 75% or more of the teachers at McKinley called for a “Vote of No Confidence” in the current acting principal, the District decides to broadcast that Principal Barton allegedly misused $22,000 over a ten-year period. Every one that works for Buffalo Public Schools knows that all spending must be approved AND each year all school accounts are audited so how would it be possible for Principal Barton to misuse any funds?? Barton, her attorney said, has been able to recover duplicate receipts for every purchase and has turned those over to the district. If they want to investigate something, they should take a good, hard look at McKinley’s current expenditures in the absence of Principal Barton.
The news stories indicate that things are great at McKinley and students love going to school now. Of course some of the students are happy with Principal Barton’s absence. Why wouldn’t they be when they don’t have to go to class, they hang out in various areas of the school listening to their music, eating and playing. They have food delivered or send out for it and you would think they were at a picnic the way they behave during the school day, where education has become optional. Parents, log onto Infinite Campus and check your child’s attendance for EVERY class. There are students that have missed 200- 300 classes so far this school year when they are being sent to school every day. I know you wonder how this is possible??? It is possible because cutting classes has now become an every day occurrence with some students, and not just by the upper classmen either. Students run through the hallways like they are on a track field, they are rude, disrespectful and seemingly incorrigible. But this is what happens when there is no or limited leadership in a school building. Students are playing hide and seek throughout the building, gambling in the bathrooms, getting high in the bathrooms, snap chatting, Facebooking, anything and everything except focusing on their education. When the late bell rings at the change of classes there are still hundreds of students in the hallways with no intention of attending a class. The students decide if they are going to attend any or all of their classes and education is not optional, which is one value that Principal Barton stood for and imposed on every student at McKinley!
Teachers at McKinley High School do not feel safe, they feel as if their hard work is in vain because at least a 1/3 of the students have no interest in their education. All of the distractions throughout the building are too much of a temptation for these students and they basically do what they want specifically because there are no or limited consequences.
Parent Teacher Association president Samuel Radford stated in a Buffalo News article that the School District is improving because graduation rates are up, suspensions are down, but are they really?? We would agree that suspensions are down but this is often to the detriment of entire school buildings, not just McKinley. When students misbehave they are “counseled” and/or verbally reprimanded. Does this change the behavior?? Absolutely not. All it does is create environments much like the one at McKinley where students freely roam the building instead of going to classes, they are disruptive and disrespectful and this does not create a favorable learning environment. Some of us have heard students tell adults in the building to “Suck my d….”, “Get the f*** out of my face”, and much worse. How many readers have to endure this type of behavior on their jobs?? But the bottom line is this: As educators, it is our job to help prepare students for college and/or a career. Due to the current situation at McKinley High School, teachers are failing miserably.
This is the problem; when one area is weakened the whole structure is subject to collapse and this is what is occurring at McKinley. We implore the members of the Buffalo Board of Education to do two things: return Principal Barton to her job, and take a closer look at the District Code of Conduct and the consequences of all offenses. Some students are far beyond the control of any school system and though it is very sad, it is also true. So is it fair to let these few rotten apples spoil the whole bunch?? I think not.
Lastly, think back to your own high school career and compare it to current high school trends. We live in a completely different world now and as such, we must face the fact that even though every child deserves a quality education, a public high school with 25 to 35 students in each class may not be the best option for some of our students. When students refuse to listen to authority figures and willingly ignore the class/school rules and the District Code of Conduct, perhaps a different educational setting should be sought for those students. Under Principal Barton’s watch, these many problems would not be occurring.
Finally, it is time for the Buffalo Board of Education to do what is right and return Principal Barton to her building which would allow teachers to get back to the business of educating those students . In the absence of compelling evidence in a non life threatening situation, how can the Board, in good conscience keep people away from their jobs??
-Concerned Teachers & Students at McKinley