“That’s what I plan on being — transparent and have a great line of communication with parents,” declared Dr. Darren Brown-Hall, superintendent, Williamsville Central School District.
The new leader of the Williamsville Central School District is pledging to be transparent and communicate with school families.
7 Eyewitness News senior reporter Eileen Buckley is the first journalist to do a sit-down interview with Dr. Brown-Hall.
“I want to build relationships with parents, so they can see where I’m coming from and I can hear where they are coming from — now will we always agree — absolutely not,” remarked Brown-Hall.
Brown-Hall arrives in the district with more than 20-years of educational experience. His career began as a math teacher at Sweet Home High School, but most of his time in education has been spent with the Buffalo Public School District.
Brown-Hall took the oath of office in the Williamsville District July 1 after spending most of his career in the city school district where he served as an assistant principal, principal, an associate superintendent, an interim superintendent.and most recently as chief of staff.
He is also the first Black and openly gay superintendent in Erie and Niagara counties. Brown-Hall tells me he is extremely proud to represent both groups.
“I’m extremely qualified — so being African American and being opening gay are two great things — I represent them very well and I want to be visible, right, so that anyone else that is Black or Brown or gay knows what they can achieve, but I don't want the fact that I am extremely qualified for the position to get lost,” remarked Brown-Hall.
“What made you want to become the superintendent of Williamsville?” Buckley asked.
"Williamsville had a lot of qualities that I was looking for in a district, coming from the second largest district in New York State from Buffalo. I wanted a larger school district to actually be superintendent of and Williamsville being the largest of the suburban districts in the region — I said I think I can do good work in Williamsville — I can make an impact,” replied Brown-Hall.
But Brown-Hall takes over after a great deal of turmoil in the district.
Williamsville parents protested heavily against former Superintendent Scott Martzloff, who later resigned, saying they were locked out of decision making in reopening schools.
“How do you come in and heal that?” Buckley questioned.
“One of the first things is really being transparent and have a great avenue of communication — so I've done listening tours,” responded Brown-Hall. “Communication is one thing, but if we are constantly pushing out information that's not how parents want to be communicated with — they want to also have a vehicle where they can have input and that's important.”
Brown-Hall says a big challenge is to make sure students feel safe when they return on September 8th.
“And I want to make sure parents and families know that what we have in place right now may not be what we have in place in the fall,” explained Brown-Hall
On a personal note, the new superintendent married his husband, Chris, in 2014. They have two children, Sean, the oldest in college, a junior at Brockport and the youngest, Connor, heading into 7th grade.
“I love my boys,” Brown-Hall said. “I’m very proud of my boys.”
Brown-Hall says he wants Williamsville families to know, as a dad, he faces the same challenges.
“And being a dad, helped me become a better educator too because now my lens is — I look at all the decision I make through the lens of a father,” described Brown-Hall.
“Will Williamsville students see you in the hallways as a superintendent?” Buckley asked.
“They absolutely will. I enjoy the school visits. I’ve already made visits to our summer Schools. I enjoy that, answered Brown-Hall. “In a school building, the students give it life and I enjoy that — it’s contagious — I enjoy being in the school buildings, I enjoy talking with administrators, teachers and students that’s one thing I truly do enjoy.”