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A Ken-Ton mom’s fight for more in-person school days

"We need our kids to be back in school full-time"
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Posted at 5:29 PM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 18:30:08-05

TOWN OF TONAWANDA, NY (WKBW)  — A Kenmore-Tonawanda school parent is fighting for more in-person learning. But she says she was “silenced” for trying to make her voice heard at a school board meeting Tuesday night.

“I was basically silenced and told to sit down,” said Jessica Brumbaugh.

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Jessica Brumbaugh speaking before Ken-Ton school board Tuesday night.

Brumbaugh appeared Tuesday night before the Ken-Ton School Board during the public comment session.

Before she started the school board president clearly stated public comments must be a maximum of three minutes.

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Matthew Chimera, president, board of education.

“Public comments are limited to three minutes per speaker. Board president will raise his hand when there is 30-seconds remaining so the speaker can finish his or her statement,” stated

Brumbaugh asked the school board if it would consider adding Wednesday’s to in-school learning.

Ken-Ton students are currently attending in-person instruction two-days a week .

Brumbaugh questioned what the school board is doing to get students back — in school — five days a week.

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Mya Brumbaugh remotes in from home for days she's not in school.

As she continued with her speech, Brumbaugh did receive verbal warnings, then a warning noise sounded alerting her that time was up.

“Our kids our failing. I know this because I received an email just last week from my child's teacher saying so,” Brumbaugh read to the board.

Brumbaugh was granted an extra two minutes, but ignored repeated warnings that her time was up prompting a police officer to approach her.

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Jessica Brumbaugh, Ken-Ton parent.

“I think it's horrible that they're treating parents and community members in this way when that is our platform to speak,” Brumbaugh explained.

Brumbaugh's daughter, Mya, is a 9th grader at Kenmore West High School. She said she is asking for “transparency” from the district.

“We need our kids to be back in school full-time — whether that's a month from now or a couple of months from now,” described Brumbaugh.

The daughter has only been in the classroom 11 times since in-person learning started and Myia says that's just not enough.

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Myia, is a 9th grader at Kenmore West High School.

“I agree with the Wednesday thing because we don't really learn and it's not the teachers fault. I think that we need that extra day this year,” Mya Brumbaugh noted.

“What are you doing? Are you talking to legislators? Are you reviewing the numbers just to see if you can fit more children in the classroom?” Brumbaugh questions.

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Ken-Ton school board.

There are no answers to those questions right now, but the district responded with a lengthy written statement to explain the public comment policy.

“The The Ken-Ton School District deeply values the input of the public. The Board of Education always welcomes public participation at Board meetings and has clear expectations for speakers. At each meeting, members of the public are permitted to address the Board for a maximum of three minutes. The public comment policy is read aloud at every Board meeting immediately prior to the public comment portion of the meeting. This policy applies to all speakers, regardless of who is speaking, what the topic is, or how many speakers are signed up.

A timer with a three-minute countdown is prominently displayed as a reminder for the individual who is speaking. Additionally, the Board President raises his hand when 30 seconds remain. The Board President, as officiator of the meeting, as well as an alarm sounding, will note that the time has expired at the end of three minutes, and politely ask the speaker to complete his or her remarks. Limited additional time may be granted to allow the speaker to conclude. Should the speaker continue without regard for the procedure, he or she will once again be reminded that time has expired and asked to close. Should repeated requests be disregarded or ignored, a uniformed police officer, who is present to ensure an orderly board meeting, will politely ask the speaker to leave the microphone. At that time, the speaker will be permitted to stay for the remainder of the meeting, as long as they are not being disruptive to the work of the Board.

It is the responsibility of the school district to conduct orderly meetings and model good behaviors for students. At all times, rules and procedures will be enforced fairly and consistently for all individuals. The District sincerely appreciates the cooperation of the public and its respect for the policies and procedures of the District.

The Board of Education always welcomes public participation at Board meetings and has clear expectations for speakers. At each meeting, members of the public are permitted to address the Board for a maximum of three minutes. The public comment policy is read aloud at every Board meeting immediately prior to the public comment portion of the meeting. This policy applies to all speakers, regardless of who is speaking, what the topic is, or how many speakers are signed up.

A timer with a three-minute countdown is prominently displayed as a reminder for the individual who is speaking. Additionally, the Board President raises his hand when 30 seconds remain. The Board President, as officiator of the meeting, as well as an alarm sounding, will note that the time has expired at the end of three minutes, and politely ask the speaker to complete his or her remarks. Limited additional time may be granted to allow the speaker to conclude. Should the speaker continue without regard for the procedure, he or she will once again be reminded that time has expired and asked to close. Should repeated requests be disregarded or ignored, a uniformed police officer, who is present to ensure an orderly board meeting, will politely ask the speaker to leave the microphone. At that time, the speaker will be permitted to stay for the remainder of the meeting, as long as they are not being disruptive to the work of the Board.

It is the responsibility of the school district to conduct orderly meetings and model good behaviors for students. At all times, rules and procedures will be enforced fairly and consistently for all individuals. The District sincerely appreciates the cooperation of the public and its respect for the policies and procedures of the District.”

Kenmore-Tonawanda Union Free School District
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Kenmore-Tonawanda School District.

“Would you want an apology from the school district?”
Buckley asked.

“I would,” Brumbaugh responded. “I do think they should apologize, yes.”