Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How a Shiftless Superintendent Tried to Sell Out His Urban District

As the School Board election race morphs into the junior high popularity contest we know it will become I admit my allegiance to several Board Members is forced at best. Mary Ruth Kapsiak's seat is up for grabs as is Roz Taylor's and Sharon Belton-Cottman. These three in combination with Florence Johnson and Barbara Seals Nevergold stonewalled Amber Dixon's chances of becoming anything more than an interim Superintendent. A fellow Board member admitted to constituents at a community gathering that they would never allow Amber Dixon to have the job or any white woman for that matter. Instead they brought in Pamela Brown who has underwhelmed everyone with her stealth like profile in all matters educational. The ladies were really taken with her Harvard PhD and have said as much since bringing her here. She claimed a while back that she was bringing in some of "her own people" from her last job in Philly. But as she was a holdover from a previously hated regime (think James Williams' appointees here folks) the remark has rung somewhat hollow as it doesn't appear she has any "people" to bring in from Philly.

What nobody knew but we've since learned is that Williams and Friends were willing to hand over 4 Buffalo Schools to corporate privatization. A quick perusal of the West Buffalo Charter School's Board meeting minutes reveals some very eye popping backroom deals being made between -- you guessed it -- none other than the Head Chamelon himself -- Steve Polowitz and Jimmy the Pimp. The privatizers made it VERY CLEAR that they wanted Waterfront. Williams was also willing to pimp out Herman Badillo #76 and it almost looks as if they were willing to accept it if it meant they would also get their hands on Waterfront. Williams admits the union is not going to like it and almost seems to grasp that the Board might have an opinion on the giveaway as well but in typical Jimmy Dubz fashion the old bullshitter was wheeling and dealing now and not worrying about the chips falling in his Chop House lobster bisque later. Amazingly, Williams states that he and his executive committee would all be on board with handing over 4 Buffalo Schools to corporate privatization. If anyone is good at history can we draw up a list of who exactly his cabinet consisted of ? I am thinking several of them took quick demotions as soon as he left town and Dixon took charge.

Here are a few priceless snippets from the deals that almost were. Note that Williams claims to have spoken with "his board" and that several of them will support this. I wonder which Board Members he was talking about ? And I wonder how hard it will be to support some of these sad sacks in the coming months simply because they appear to be the lesser of two evils.

August 15 2011 WBCS  Board Minutes

Mr. Cozzo and Mr. Polowitz met several times with Dr. Williams, School Superintendent.  We presented to him our interest in WBSC restarting Waterfront School.  School 45 (International School) was also discussed at one point and Dr. Williams proposed School 76 (Herman Badillo), but we indicated that we are really interested in Waterfront.  Mr. Cozzo felt that Dr. Williams was in favor of the plan.  Dr. Williams indicated that he had spoken with his Board and felt that several members would support this plan.  He met with his executive staff and there was seemingly no objection.  We were told that everyone supported it except the union.  He stated that he also spoke to the State about getting them enjoined in making this happen.  The school board subsequently announced that they were terminating Dr. Williams’ contract.  

Mr. Polowitz stated that he met with Dr. Williams in early July, at which time Dr. Williams asked for a proposal to do 4 schools.  Mr. Polowitz provided that proposal.  Our concern right now is how we make this proposal survive the end of his tenure as superintendent.  We don’t want to lose momentum if he’s out.  The only school that would be ready to go as a charter is Waterfront...

Dr. Whitehorse suggested that we hold a press conference to present our plan.  We need to talk about where we are and about the various options we have with closing a PLA school and doing a restart.  We need to talk about what we need – a response from the school board, a response from the superintendent, a response from the State with regard to funding and a response from the community supporting our plan.  We need to let people know why it’s in their interest – the interest of the board, the governor, the superintendent.  Mr. Cozzo stated that we should wait to see whether Dr. Williams serves this up for us as he’s promised.  It is most important that we engage the parent community before we do any press conference – perhaps set up a parent meeting at Waterfront.  

We saw what a colossal FAIL their attempts to infiltrate parents and the community were when the Chameleons  tried that quick snap meeting last July at Waterfront giving less than 24 hours for anyone to make plans and show up. And whaddya know but they FAILED to provide ONE parent or member of the community who'd support them. The opposition, however came DEEP and essentially told the Chameleons, Polowitz, Val Nolan and their frothing point man Emilio Fuentes, Thanks but no thanks. There was no doubt as to the feelings of those assembled that nobody remotely connected to Waterfront School or its Community had any use for this merry band of outsiders in a hurry to do them good and make a buck off it in the process.

Now that we're getting a look at how this stuff goes on, who's to say they aren't making the same private offers to the latest Superintendent brought here by the Block of 5 on the Board,. Carl Paladino calls them "The Sisters" to the horror of some sensitive members of the community.  I prefer the more poetic "Sorority Majority." You can throw in Ralph Hernandez to the majority voting block too since he's shown all the loyalty of a Pashtun warlord in his on again off again allegiances as a Board member. Remember when he wanted to be Board President and threw in with the Williams agenda claiming that's what anyone does to get votes, go where the votes are? Oh and in case anyone's wondering, James Sampson the guy running against Ralph happens to be the Chairman of the Erie Country Fiscal Stability Board, a Cuomo appointee. He is also a founding member and trustee of West Buffalo Charter and a Board Member of BuffaloReformEd. Talk about hold your nose and vote. And as for Dr. Brown who seems to love posing alongside charter school wunderkind and political appointee NYSED King John King, does anyone really think she'll stand up for public schools when the Deformers wave an offer sheet under her nose? I'm not holding my breath folks. 

Next : How Amber Dixon Spoiled the Privatizing Party and the Chameleons Whined all the Way Home


  1. Yes, let's not forget that the Chameleons have not given up their attempt to privatize the Waterfront School. Although their last attempt was foiled, it was not pulverized. They said they would be working WITH Commissioner King's Department of (Charter) Education. They indicated that the State WANTS their help to make the conversion privatizing scheme easier to accomplish.
    Let's hope that the wonderful folks who spoke so eloquently TO the Chameleons and told them in no uncertain terms that they did NOT want to give public schools to them will step up once again during the School Board elections. The DPCC is attempting a reformist slate. One of their tenets is to locally legislate a "parent trigger" that will turn public schools over to the Chameleons. And we know how much "say" parents have on Charter School "appointed" Boards: NONE.

  2. 3rd grade in the burbsMarch 12, 2013 at 8:25 PM

    Isn't there some kind of saying about beware of the evil from within? I agree that the superintendent looked too comfortable sitting next to King in the photograph published in the BN a while back. I give all of you in the BPS credit for continuing to hang in there and fight. You no sooner hold off one attempt at takeover and the next assault begins.
    Also, today a colleague forwarded an email to me that she received from Mike Deely asking for NYSUT activists to help gather signatures for the pro-public education school board candidates in Buffalo. I know he is in charge of the local chapter of NYSUT and he mentions he is on the DPCC. I apologize for my ignorance-is he one of the good guys?

  3. He's a nominative good guy but as we saw at the NYSUT chinwag at UB the real question is how deep is NYSUT committed to their constituents before they run up the white flag and tell us not to die on any barricades? President Ianuzzi instilled zero confidence in his timid and tepid responses to the onslaughts we face on so many fronts. I fear he is taking his cues from Weingarten and her AFT concessionaires and why wouldn't he? I don't want to blast Mike Deeley, he said some things that are very true. I think i will believe in NYSUT"s commitment when I see it. So far it's just talk and NYSUT telling us what we have to do. I want to see what THEY DO to earn those dues we give them.

  4. I know the Chameleons are not ready to give up on the Waterfront School. ( They want a nicer office than the one they have on Oak Street.) Since there is not a teacher or anykind of educator among them,I guess if you say you like little kids, and you have a law degree, an English degree,or you are married to someone with a degree...then you can start a school and the taxpayers will pay for it.

    What confuses me is Carl's rump on a charter school horse. Doesn't he know that he would be helping Andrew to get what he wants ?
    Money...of course...how dumb of me. That's what they all want. ..and power...and publicity....and more money.
    What a bunch of phony hypocrites!

    1. Carl is lookng to rent them building space for starters. I also think he hates teachers and we know he hates Phil Rumore. Like every businessman he also thinks the rules of the market will all translate neatly into education with merit pay, VAM scores and all the rest of their misguided and wrong headed bullshit.

  5. I know this may not be relevant to the topic on this thread, but......does anyone know any info about the Investment in Education Tax Credit legislation rally being held in First Niagara Center on April 10? Who is organizing it? Is it a good bill for ALL schools?

    1. It appears to be Cuomo and co. who are behind it. I read some stuff about it on Facebook that was pretty damned underhanded by the sound of it. Essentially it's a voucher giveaway to religious schools.

  6. 3rd grade in the burbsMarch 13, 2013 at 7:25 PM


    Thanks for answering my question about Mike Deely. His association with the DPCC was making me think twice about the sincerity of his email because I associate DPCC with Sam Radford.
    I am wondering if all of our unions are taking the lead from the likes of Randi Weingarten. The head of my union was the moderator at UB and that was troubling to my friend and me. We had a third evaluation piece added to our APPR (administrative observation, walk-through, and the 3rd piece is either a video, a portfolio, or peer coaching. It is a ton of additional paperwork and time. After it is completed we go to the administrator and present our findings for each other (for peer coaching, at least because that is what I chose to do) and the administrator gives us a rating. When I questioned a union person why we had this extra component when other districts did not I was told that the union did not want the district to hold all the cards with the assessment piece of APPR. It was supposed to give us some say in our scores. If the administrator is deciding our score, even though it is based on what we present, aren't they still holding all the cards? Now they are forming a committee to meet with the district regarding all the testing we are doing. The union asked people to volunteer, which I did, but I was not selected. I am not sure how selections were determined. Once the list or word gets out about those people selected, I think it will become obvious if this was supposed to be an effective committee or one meant to appease the complaining masses. We shall see. It is another reason to be wary of what the union is telling us.

    1. If anyone is following Weingarten's concession driven unionism vote their self serving asses out as soon as you can.

  7. Is everyone aware that Mrs. Cozzo is/was a big wheel in The Hall?
    I don't remember her title, but she was pretty close to JAW.
    Could this be a conflict of interest?

  8. From the BPS website : Buffalo Public Schools Community Relations Director Diane L. Cozzo spends a significant amount of time preparing Board recognitions, where members of the District and Buffalo community are honored for serving the B.P.S. Diane was a little surprised during a recent Board meeting when her name was called by Superintendent Dr. James A. Williams to be one who is honored for service to the district.
    How about Carl renting a building to West Bflo charter School then voting on their recertification as a Board member if elected? Conflicts of Interest are the rule more than the exception from what i am seeing.