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A kinder, gentler James Williams?

By many accounts, the often bombastic Superintendent James Williams has been making quite an effort lately to control his temper in public.

Several people have mentioned to me -- in independent and unrelated conversations over the past few weeks -- that he's been much nicer to them than he usually is.

One person, recalling a recent encounter they'd had with the superintendent in a group setting, said: "I thought it was quite a remarkable turnaround. He's never treated me respectfully before, and he did. That was astonishing."

(At this point, I should note that I've also heard contrary reports regarding Williams' treatment of specific individuals in one-on-one encounters. But many people have said that in public meetings and in group settings, he has been uncharacteristically respectful. I invite you to e-mail me at and share your personal stories about your interactions with Williams.)

At last night's board meeting, a very active parent, Dorian Gaskin -- upset about Williams' plan to close School 61 and relocate or close Campus West -- told the superintendent: "I believe you are a liar, and I don't believe the truth is anywhere in you."

I was not at the meeting, but several people who were there told me that Williams walked out of the meeting at that point and stayed out of the room for more than 20 minutes, apparently to calm down.

We don't know how Williams spent his time when he walked out of the board meeting, but those who were there say he seemed generally in control of his temper when he returned.

Here's the clip from Channel 4, which includes Gaskin's comments that led the superintendent to take a time out:

Superintendent storms out of board meeting:


- Mary Pasciak

E-mail me at or follow me on Follow  SchoolZoneBlog on Twitter Twitter. Check out the Buffalo News' education page at

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