Hispanic Community Talk Directly with Superintendent

July 19, 2012 Updated Jul 20, 2012 at 7:10 AM EDT

By Kendra Eaglin

July 19, 2012 Updated Jul 20, 2012 at 7:10 AM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - Superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown attending a reception at D'Youville College Thursday organized by Hispanic community leaders.

School board member Ralph Hernandez says being fluent in Spanish will allow Brown to better assess the current bi-lingual and limited English proficiency programs to see if they're working.

"She's also going to be able to work very closely with those folks who are responsible for delivering these services you know it's not going to be this thing where you have English as a second language or bilingual instructors out there not doing the job that they're supposed to," said Hernandez.

"We are proud of being able to speak Spanish but recognize how important it is to be able to learn English and communicate and understand what people is telling you so that support to the English second language programs is huge for us," said Esmeralda Sierra, a Buffalo Resident.

Brown will be in charge of 45 elementary schools, 11 high schools and 2-adult education programs, and about 5,000 of those students enrolled are English Language Learners not from only Spanish-Speaking countries but African and Asian too.

Brown told the crowd she has implemented successful second language acquisition programs and has worked with a dozen schools in multi-cultural education programs.

But with the district's recently released math and English scores still dismal Brown says it's clear the entire student body needs a major overhaul.

"We can not continue to accept the level of success that many of our students have been experiencing and so we renewed our commitment to making sure that we're doing everything possible and working very strategically to make sure that we're meeting the needs of all of the different students who come to us from many different walks of life and with many different needs," said Brown.

Dr. Brown plans to meet with students, parents and community members directly and says being able to communicate with them one-on-one in their native language will help build respect and mutual understanding.