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Williamsville parents demand meeting with superintendent or will file complaint with state

Group wants hybrid learning to start Sept. 28
WILLIAMSVILLE-BOARD.jpeg
Posted at 3:09 PM, Sep 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-17 15:39:15-04

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WKBW) — A group of parents in the Williamsville Central School District has given acting superintendent Dr. John McKenna an ultimatum: meet with us in person by tomorrow or prepare to face consequences from the state.

In a letter from Williamsville CSD Parent and Student United dated September 16, the group
says the video message McKenna delivered to parents and students on Monday failed to address their concerns.

"If you want our trust and faith, you will communicate more openly and transparently as you promised," the letter states. Every member of the board of education is copied on the letter.

The group says McKenna's address focused solely on remote learning and did not discuss the hybrid learning model, which was chosen by approximately 80 percent of families.

Last week, the district announced it was moving to an all-remote model for grades five through 12 through at least the end of the calendar year.

"Our district's more than five thousand students must have the synchronous, hybrid model of schooling that parents chose this summer and it must start no later than September 28, 2020," the letter said.

Parents also want to hear the acting superintendent address the impact the uncertainty is having on the mental health of students.

When announcing all-remote instruction, McKenna said the new model would allow students to receive an equal level of education. The model also allows students more electives and AP options, he said to parents on September 10.

"We wanted to make sure that children got high quality instruction, five days a week, and they will," McKenna said. "This time also they're following their bell schedule, so even though it's remote they're actually going to be following their actual bell schedule and going to school, but really they're just doing it remotely."

Parents say if McKenna does not speak with them, "1,500 Williamsville families will petition the New York State Board of Regents and Governor Andrew Cuomo's office with a neglect of education complaint against the Williamsville Central School District and the Board of Education."

This afternoon, the district posted what McKenna said will be the first of daily social media updates for the district. McKenna said the district has four committees working on return plans, including a 'Reset, Relaunch and Return Committee' that is focused on implementing a timeline for bringing students back to class for in-person learning.

The start of remote learning was delayed following the district's announcement that 201 staff members resigned or took a leave of absence due to COVID-19.

On Monday, 43 teachers hired for remote instruction were informed by the district they would no longer be needed.

According to teachers, McKenna told them in a meeting they were not being hired, not that they had been fired. However, the teachers had received a Williamsville Central School District laptop and equipment, and had filled out W-2 information and profile sheets.

McKenna took over as superintendent after superintendent Dr. Scott Martzloff was placed on administrative leave by the school board. The board said it was "unaware" of a decision by Martzloff to delay school for remote learners.