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Parents of BPS students call out district on response to City Honors incident

"There are criminals in the classroom"
Posted at 8:18 AM, Sep 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-25 18:13:50-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Parents of students at Buffalo Public Schools are calling out the district on what they say is an 'inadequate' response to the incident involving a teacher at City Honors school earlier this month.

"We trust these people to teach out children. What we're finding [out] is they are having some major struggles," said Patricia Elliott-Patton, parent advocate for the District Parent Coordinating Council.

"How do we know this is not gonna happen again?" asked Sherman Webb-Middlebrooks, father of a three-year-old.

"Are they going to the mandatory training that the district holds and that all administrators are supposed to go to? Is all of this happening?" asked Kelly Hall, whose daughter is a City Honors student.

Her daughter was in 7th grade last year and had class with Peter Hingston, the teacher accused of using a camera to record students in a sexually inappropriate way. He's now on leave.

"My daughter said that he would stand and hover over the girls and I said 'what did you do when he did that?' and she said just so naturally 'we would just move our chairs around and get him to back off," said Hall.

So she wants to see something done.

"That's where we come in, that's where the district has to come in. We have to give kids tools to recognize and understand. Starting at pre-k," said Hall.

Sherman Webb-Middlebrook's daughter Mahogany, 3, will be starting school at BPS next year.

He says he's scared about what could happen to her.

"Your child will forever have to deal with that. Your family will forever have to overcome this trauma. As a dad, how do you really sit with that?" said Webb-Middlebrooks.

The group is calling for a response from the district on these points:

  • Strongly condemn any type of child abuse and/or sexual harassment, abuse, assault and/or misconduct in our schools
  • Provide a more comprehensive response regarding what has happened at City Honors and through the District, beyond a “see something, say something” approach
  • Work to implement comprehensive, sequential health and sexuality education, PK-12, in line with the District Wellness Policy, so that students have the knowledge, skills and resources they need around issues regarding physical safety, consent, healthy relationships, and sexuality

"I don't think the district has the capacity to talk about it, but just because something's uncomfortable, doesn't mean we don't talk about it," said Jessica Bauer Walker, President of the Parent Community Health Worker Association.

Buffalo Public Schools said in a statement that it must examine policies and procedures to provide a "framework of protection" in the classroom.

BPS wants parents to help enforce a "see something, sense something, say something" policy, but parents say, it's not enough.

Moving forward they want to work with the district to keep their children safe.