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Two Buffalo School Board members earlier this week disputed the advantages of hiring professional architects or engineers to run a key school department.

But Park District member James W. Comerford Jr. and at-large member John C. Doyle, who insisted that professional engineers are poor administrators, could muster only four of the five votes needed to change the job specifications of the associate superintendent for buildings.

The current associate superintendent, Donald E. Gorey, is a licensed architect who has held the post for seven years. He watched as the board Wednesday discussed advertising for applicants. Gorey has been working for a year without a contract.

But after failing to change the qualifications, Comerford and Doyle did muster the necessary votes -- including that of School Board President Judith Fisher -- against advertising.

So Gorey remains in his job and in limbo.

Last year the two were successful in having two personal friends hired for high school posts. They are also part of a group attempting to change the qualifications for associate superintendent for finance to permit hiring a non-educator.

Both singled out Comerford's brother, David, who is city public works commissioner, as a model administrator who lacks an engineering or architecture degrees but supervises engineers and architects.

They warned other board members that they will closely scrutinize the references of any licensed people who apply for the job.

"From my experience they do not make good administrators," Doyle said.

Comerford said that in his job, vice president of construction for an agency headed by Mayor Griffin, he sees professional engineers and is not impressed with them.

"If I could offer my brother's services I would," he said.

Then, in a reference to last year's controversy over his support of business partner James Kane for the post of aide to the superintendent, Comerford added, "I would not put my brother through this anyway."

North District member Oscar Smukler, who is an engineer, reminded the board that three presidents of the University at Buffalo were engineers.

"Engineers in this country have more companies than masters of business administration," said Mrs. Fisher.

In the vote, at-large member David B. Kelly, Comerford and Doyle were joined by Frank J. Jager, East District. Smukler, Mrs. Fisher and Bettye Blackman, Ferry District, opposed.

Mozella Richardson, Central District, left the meeting early, at the start of the discussion, and did not vote. Victor Turchiarelli, West, was absent. For Turchiarelli, it was the fourth absence in five meetings. Mrs. Blackman's motion to excuse him failed for lack of a second, as a similar motion did two weeks ago.

Smukler and Doyle both noted white parents have asked about sending their children to the new $20 million Science Magnet School 59, currently 68 percent black. School Superintendent Albert Thompson said that the school replaces a former neighborhood school on Glenwood Avenue, and later on Fillmore Avenue.

Years ago when the original school was closed, neighborhood residents were promised, in return for their patience, that their children could attend the new school. In the intervening years, he said, the neighborhood's minority population has increased.

Thompson said the Science Magnet is among 14 district schools now out of compliance with a federal court order requiring not less than 35 percent, or more than 65 percent, minority enrollment.

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