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Wingo's plea: 'Don't punish my children because of mistake I made'

Even though he is not facing charges for bringing a loaded gun inside a school, Masten Council Member Ulysees O. Wingo still is facing fallout.

After being barred from school district property, Wingo now doesn't know if he will be allowed to attend his son's high school graduation.

Wingo said he requested permission to attend more than a week ago, but is still waiting on a response from Superintendent Kriner Cash. His son's graduation from Hutchinson Central Technical High School is June 24.

"I would love to go to my son's graduation," he said.

"I would like to get a letter (back from Cash)," Wingo added. "So my son can stop asking me every day, 'Dad did you get the letter yet?' "

However, it doesn't seem like the school district is ready to make amends.

In fact, it appears to be doubling down.

The board is proposing a resolution that Wingo "be suspended from district premises for a period of no less than 18 months."

Buffalo Council member makes brief apology for carrying gun into school

That would include any school function or “school-authorized extracurricular event” at any district “building, structure, athletic playing field, playground, parking lot or land contained within the real property line of a public elementary or secondary school.”

If the conditions are violated the proper authorities would be contacted to pursue criminal charges.

The board discussed the resolution at a work session Wednesday and is expected to vote on it formally at its next regular meeting June 19.

"This is a situation that we take very seriously," Board President Barbara Seals Nevergold said. "The safety of the students, the staff, anyone in our schools is primary to us."

After the meeting, The Buffalo News asked Cash specifically about Wingo's request to attend his son's graduation. The superintendent indicated he would address the request in the coming days and make sure the decision "complies with what the board just directed me to do."

Wingo said he does not want to think about the possibility that Cash might deny the request.

"I can't put my mind there," Wingo said.

Though Wingo "did commit a crime" when he brought a loaded gun to Riverside High School last month, Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn said he used "prosecutorial discretion" and "a little common sense" in deciding not to charge Wingo.

Flynn noted the steps Wingo took to safely store the gun and the fact that he had verbal authorization when the principal told Wingo he could put the gun in the school safe.

The principal remains on administrative leave while the school district completes its investigation.

After the incident, the school district barred Wingo from stepping foot on district property and attending events sponsored by the school district without written permission from Cash.

Wingo said there was an event at the school of his two younger daughters that he couldn't attend because of his ban. He said he didn't seek permission for that event because he didn't want to ask for too much.

"I wasn't pushing it," he said.

And last week he was not allowed inside Leonardo da Vinci High School to pick up an older daughter, who called him because she was sick and wanted to go home. School security escorted her out of the building to the top of the stairs, Wingo said, and let her walk to his car that was parked on Porter Avenue.

Because his car windows aren't "necessarily see-through," he wondered how security knew that the vehicle the girl was getting into was her father's. Wingo noted he was never asked to sign his daughter out of school.

"I didn't make a big deal because, of course, I'm not really in a position to say anything to the district right now," Wingo said.

If Cash says he can't go to his son's graduation, he thinks the community will speak out.

"I think they understand (I) made a mistake," said Wingo, who is running for re-election. "(My) only son is graduating...to punish my son because of a mistake that his father made is just unconscionable."

Wingo last week removed himself from the Common Council's Education Committee, where he served as chair.

"I have expressed my remorse. I've expressed how sorrowful I am for that incident. I understand the gravity," Wingo said. "I understand that I've lost all my ability to negotiate with the Buffalo school district. They don't want to negotiate with me."

"I understand what I did was wrong. I understand that it was an error in judgment," Wingo said. "My issue now is I don't want them to punish my children because of a mistake I made...I want to see my son graduate."

Following gun incident, Council member Wingo removes himself from Education Committee

 

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