Some Buffalo parents upset with school district's graduation restrictions

Posted at 5:12 PM, Jun 04, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Wendy Mistretta said she was shocked when she learned her son's graduating class will have two separate ceremonies.

She tells 7 Eyewitness News the City Honors graduation will be outdoors at the All High Stadium.

"What went through my mind is that it has to be a mistake," she said. "It's a small class, we have 137 in my son's class."

Thomas Mistretta will be graduating June 22, marking an end to a challenging and stressful year.

But the challenge to have the entire family present at the ceremony continues, as each graduate only gets two tickets.

Mistretta said because of this year's graduation restrictions, her daughter will not be able to attend her brother's graduation.

Attendance this year is limited to 100 people indoors and 200 outdoors.

"Of course I wish to see my brother graduate. I mean, that's kind of just a given that when you have younger siblings or older siblings, that's something you want to see that's a big milestone," said Angelina Mistretta, a junior at City Honors.

In a statement, Buffalo Public School said it will continue to follow the State's existing COVID-19 health guidelines until more New Yorkers are fully vaccinated.

"There has been no update to the "Interim Guidance for End of Academic Year Celebrations During the COVID-19 State of Emergency" from the NYS Department of Health that was sent in collaboration with NY State Department of Education."
Dr. Kriner Cash, Superintendent.

But Mistretta said it would have made more sense to have parents engaged in the decision process one or two months ago.

"Even though they just told us this week what the regulations were, they then in effect made it too late for us to do anything about those regulations," she said.

So how does Buffalo stack up with some suburban districts?

A representative from Orchard Park Schools told us they will have a graduation ceremony for 385 students at Highmark stadium.

Each graduate will have five tickets to distribute, and attendees must show a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination.

A spokesperson for the Niagara Falls City School District said their ceremony for around 400 students will be held at the high school football field, with four tickets per graduate, and proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.