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Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown voices disagreement with Section VI decision

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Posted at 10:04 AM, Jan 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-18 10:09:09-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown has voiced his disagreement with the decision made by the Section VI Football Federation to shift to league scheduling.

A story 7 Eyewitness News has been following for you all week, Tuesday Buffalo Public Schools voiced disagreement with the decision.

BPS will still be a part of Section VI football; however, it won't be divided into size classes, but instead league scheduling. Bennett High School and South Park High School coaches said it will diminish the level of competition they see.

Section VI Football Chairman Ken Stoldt said Tuesday schools have asked for league scheduling for years, but this was the first time enrollment numbers worked out where Section VI could make the change. Stoldt said travel distance was one of the biggest reasons why schools wanted the change. He added that some teams felt a loss of identity because they were constantly switching classes.

Thursday, the decision by Section VI to realign football conferences and - in effect - keep Buffalo Public Schools from competing with teams from outside the city, angered the community. So much so that the Buffalo Board of Education voted to take legal action to challenge that decision.

A resolution to take legal action was developed during the Board's monthly meeting on Wednesday.

Friday, Buffalo Public School parents, community members, activists and others came together to speak out against the changes.

The group, which has the support of both the Buffalo Board of Education and the Buffalo Teachers Federation, say they would like to meet with Section VI members to formally voice their frustration with the changes.

They say they hope it does not come to legal action, but are prepared for a fight.

Saturday, Mayor Brown voiced his disagreement with the change, saying in part the "decision places the City of Buffalo's High School football players at an unfair and discriminatory disadvantage."

Mayor Brown continued on stating:

“The City of Buffalo’s public school system is the most diverse in the region. A decision to exclude them is a rejection of the principles of equity, diversity and inclusiveness our regional education leaders claim to believe in. I am calling on Section VI to revisit this discussion and find a way to include Buffalo’s athletes in interscholastic play. My Administration is prepared to stand with the students, coaches, parents and district leaders in defense of these young people’s right to compete at the same level as their parents and district leaders in defense of these young people’s right to compete at the same level as their peers across the region.”

Read Mayor Brown's full release below:

Mayor Byron W. Brown strongly disagrees with the January 6, 2020 decision made by the Section VI Football Federation to shift to league play. This decision places the City of Buffalo’s High School football players at an unfair and discriminatory disadvantage. The federation made this decision with the knowledge that the Buffalo School District had disbanded its Harvard Cup league a decade ago in order to participate in the Section VI Football Federation competitions. The decision to dissolve the City’s league ensured that Buffalo High School teams would be eligible for statewide championship games and increase the exposure of Buffalo students to a wider collegiate scouting audience.

Mayor Brown said, “The City of Buffalo’s public school system is the most diverse in the region. A decision to exclude them is a rejection of the principles of equity, diversity and inclusiveness our regional education leaders claim to believe in. I am calling on Section VI to revisit this discussion and find a way to include Buffalo’s athletes in interscholastic play. My Administration is prepared to stand with the students, coaches, parents and district leaders in defense of these young people’s right to compete at the same level as their peers across the region.”

With the federation’s decision, and subsequent vote by the Erie County Interscholastic Conference (ECIC) not to admit the five Buffalo Public Schools into its league, high school football athletes in Buffalo will have fewer opportunities to demonstrate their skills, have fewer opponents to play and will compete without a formal league structure. It is especially troubling that members of the ECIC who voted to end sectional play in the federation—with the knowledge of how it would impact Buffalo Public Schools—also voted not to admit those athletes into the County’s conference.

The Buffalo Public School system has over 3,000 student athletes. The five schools impacted by this decision are: Bennett, Burgard, Hutch-Tech, McKinley and South Park High Schools. Over the last several years, these schools’ athletes have been very competitive at the regional and statewide levels of play.

The implications of the decision by the federation and ECIC are clear, those votes are creating a discriminatory system which prevents City students, who are primarily young people of color, from participating in certain athletic contests. This Administration strongly condemns the actions of the federation and the ECIC and demands that immediate steps be taken to ensure that Buffalo’s high school football athletes have an

organized league to participate in and the same opportunities for championship play and collegiate exposure students in other districts will have.

Mayor Brown’s Administration has made opportunity creation a cornerstone of its approach to helping young people live fuller, supportive and productive lives. His investments in Say Yes Buffalo and the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program are providing opportunities for all students and young people of color to access higher education and career opportunities. They are also making those centers of learning and productivity more diverse and reflective of the City’s current population demographics. Building diverse school, workplace and athletic communities is critical to Buffalo’s future economic and social success.