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Supt. Pamela Brown
with WBEN's John Zach & Susan Rose
After a year and a half in office, Brown attended her first meeting of the District Parent Coordinating Council earlier this week and as part of a new effort to talk of school progress she pledges unprecedented weekly media briefings.
"To be honest there is a lot of misinformation being communicated to the public,"she said in a wide ranging interview with WBEN's John Zach and Susan Rose. .
Brown, who's tenure has been marked by few real encounters with the media says outreach has not been a priority until now.
Under her tenure the graduation rate increased slightly, but Brown has been often criticized by State Education Commissioner John King, disappointed with " the leadership", of Buffalo Schools.
"Obviously the board has to make a judgement about the performance of the superintendent and the structure of their administrative team," King (pictured R) said in an interview with WBEN last August (Read More)
A vote to oust Brown last year failed by a 5-4 vote, but was followed up with a buyout offer assembled by a coalition of business leaders that would have paid her twice what her contract called for if she resigned.
"I have put that behind me. , " Brown said. Friday. " I look upon that as hopefully an effort that was being undertaken that it would benefit the students.. but again, my focus has been on the schools. We have seen progress."
Graduation rates in the district hover just above 50 percent, and for several months this past year state officials regularly rejected one of the district's turnaround plans- at one point having to coax Brown into attending a meeting in Albany to address the inadequacy of plans for Lafayette and East High Schools.
"Last year we submitted 9 turnaround plans, and we had 8 of those nine approved... I would certainly say we had a great measure of success."
Buffalo Schools Superintendent Pamela Brown held the first in a series of press briefings on Thursday to update the public on what is happening throughout the district.
In Brown's one and a half years as Superintendent, she has often been criticized for her lack of transparency and availability. These new briefings might be considered a sort of New Year's resolution. "I’ve decided to publicly announce my resolution for 2014 and beyond. So, here it is. I resolve to do my best to update the press, and therefore the public to those things that matter most to people interested in education and how it works," Brown said in a statement.
She says these new briefings are not a direct response to those criticisms, but will help to address them. "I want to add clarity, to supply the public with real numbers, and to help those with an eye on us, especially parents, to understand the state of the schools," Brown said. "There's a lot of misinformation being circulated out there, and I just want to demonstrate, through transparency, exactly what the situation is in our schools."
It isn't just the media Brown is attempting to be more open with, Thursday's briefing occurred just days after Brown attended a meeting of the District Parent Coordinating Council for the very first time on Tuesday.
Brown acknowledged that she has made mistakes in the past when it comes to relaying information to the public, but says that she has learned from them. "I certainly will continue to do more to reach out to different stakeholder groups in the community, and to build the relationships that will be critical to the success of this district."
Not everyone is impressed with Brown's change though.
"It appears that somebody might have said to them 'hey maybe you should show more inclination to dealing with the parents,'" says School Board Member Carl Paladino. "Maybe that's what she's trying to do right now. It's a little late to try and rectify her incompetence, but this may be her best attempt to try to do something to answer those questions about her failures."
Paladino says that Brown is attempting to do a job that he believes she is not qualified for. "The problems with this district go far deeper than anything she could do to try and repair it on the surface. It's a surface repair of the relationships that have been destroyed, of the morale that has been destroyed, by a person who just does not have a clue what the heck she's doing."
The Superintendent's Briefing lasted over 30 minutes, and she touched on a number of subjects including talks the district has had with the Diocese of Buffalo regarding students who have requested transfers in to schools in good standing. Brown said that the Diocese has told her they have around 200 seats that would be available to city students.
Brown is expected to hold these briefings with the media every week.