Parents Boycott Buffalo Public Schools

May 16, 2011 Updated May 16, 2011 at 8:55 PM EDT

By Kyla Igoe

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May 16, 2011 Updated May 16, 2011 at 8:55 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - On the steps of Buffalo City Hall Monday, dozens gathered to boycott the Buffalo Public School District. Dozens of parents say they're concerned by the district's low performing schools, high drop-out rates, and low graduation numbers. The District Parent Coordinating Council, which held the event, is demanding a quality education for all student and wants education reform within the school system. Many parents also decided to keep their children home from school Monday to send a clear message to the superintendent and board of education members that something must change.

"We have to accept a broken system and do nothing about it?," said Samuel Radford III, Vice President of the District Parent Coordinating Council. "That's not fair. That's not right. We're not going to stand for it."

The coordinating council also held a community prayer service at Niagara Square in hopes to bring everyone together in harmony. Superintendent Dr. James Williams was strongly opposed to the boycott and released this statement:

"Today's attendance numbers didn't tell us anything new about the need for students to be in school on a daily basis. Overall attendance in the district was near 53 percent today, compared to 61 percent on the last half day, May 9th. Without a doubt, attendance needs to be better every day for continuity of instruction. While I applaud our parent's passion and their right to a voice for themselves and their children, I ask that we move together positively for change. It's time to stop talking about boycotts and instead focus on the substantive issues of public education reform. Given the increased academic expectations as a result of Race to the Top, the entire school community needs to make a concerted effort toward attendance and learning. Being present and fulfilling obligations is a skill that if learned young, will continue to pay off for years to come. The bottom line is that we know the best place for our children is in school, and children learn best when they are in school every day."

The DPCC says they are expected to meet with the superintendent in June to discuss how change can happen.