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Two Buffalo school administrators with voided contracts may return as interns

Two Buffalo school administrators whose contracts are considered void because they lack the proper state certification could be brought on to work as interns for the district.

Board members Jason McCarthy and Carl Paladino said they learned of the plan shortly before Wednesday’s board meeting, although it was not on the agenda. A school district spokeswoman said she was not aware of that proposal.

The issue did not come up publicly for discussion at Wednesday’s meeting, but board members went into an executive session to discuss personnel issues at about 10 p.m., came out at about 11:30 p.m. and took no action.

“Every person (the superintendent) hired I asked what unique qualities this person has, and whether they were certified,” said board member Carl Paladino. “Every time her answer was yes. Now, the suspicion is that she deceived us purposefully.”

Paladino proposed to take action against the two women at last week’s meeting, but that resolution was tabled.

The proposed appointments are the latest twist in the ongoing saga surrounding Superintendent Pamela C. Brown’s hiring practices. Last week it was revealed that Yamilette Williams, chief of curriculum, assessment and instruction, has only a conditional certificate to serve as a school principal in New York State, not as a districtwide administrator, according to the state Education Department. Faith Morrison Alexander, one of the district’s chiefs of school leadership who provides direct oversight to schools, has the same conditional certificate.

Because the women’s contracts state they must hold the proper certification, school board members were advised by their attorney that those contracts are now void.

Brown has maintained the women are on an unpaid administrative leave and that the district is working with them to obtain the appropriate credentials.

Now, it seems she has another idea.

The details of any intern agreement were still unclear late Wednesday, with several board members saying they learned of the plans only shortly before the meeting.

Frustrations over Brown’s hiring practices have been escalating in recent weeks, starting with the hiring of Mary Guinn as interim deputy superintendent.

Critics questioned whether Brown conducted a thorough enough search for the position.

Some board members are also taking issue with the fact that although Brown told them Guinn would serve in the role of interim deputy superintendent for only three months, her contract includes a clause that allows the superintendent to extend it.

And recently board members discovered more names to add to the growing list of employees lacking the appropriate state credentials.

Bennett High School Principal Terry Ross was not granted his school building leader certification until Feb. 1, five months into the school year.

Paladino is also taking issue with the fact that the woman from Johns Hopkins University hired to oversee the turnaround efforts at Lafayette and East high schools does not have a superintendent certificate.

The state does not require people overseeing educational partnership organizations to hold that credential, but Paladino is arguing that since Tamara Branch has essentially taken on the role of superintendent, she should meet the same standard.

Find the live blog from Wednesday’s School Board meeting here.