Memo To:   All Buffalo Teachers

From:         Rich Nigro, President, BTF

Date:          October 30, 2023


Subject:     School Violence

In recent weeks, there has been a marked increase in reports from teachers of violence in our schools. Incidents range from raucous crowds of students during dismissals from lunch and school; outbreaks of fights throughout the day both inside and outside school; and, most disturbingly, assaults against teachers and other staff. 

At her invitation, Vice President MacPherson-Sullivan and I met with Superintendent Williams last week to discuss the frequency of and responses to these incidents. Dr. Williams shared our concerns and is committed to working with the BTF on developing solutions, stating she would like to meet with the BTF monthly. 

This week, we will email you the first in a series of brief teacher surveys intended to collect your first-hand account of violent incidents and, more importantly, ideas and suggestions for improving things based on your professional experience as an educator. Further, the BTF Health & Safety Committee (composed of teachers) will be extending invitations to representatives from BCSA, BEST, Substitutes United, and Parent Organizations. Your survey responses will drive the group’s conversation as they scrutinize such things as: 

  1. Where the problem areas are 
  2. How administrators respond to preemptive information they receive before a fight occurs 
  3. Expected procedures for responding to violence 
  4. Conditions needed to reduce violence in our schools 

Some members have reported being discouraged from recording violent occurrences in Infinite Campus. If we hope to improve the situation, we must look at it honestly and objectively. That begins with documentation. Therefore, when there is an act of violence, it is the BTF’s position that teachers should record such instances in the Infinite Campus Student Behavior tab under the appropriate student profile. We spoke with an ASL who confirmed that this is the District’s position as well. Thus, please document accordingly and retain a printed or digital copy for your records. 

Teachers cannot be expected to teach while simultaneously responding to student fights. Students cannot be expected to learn while instruction is interrupted by violent outbursts. And no one should be made to fear for his or her safety while at school. We at BTF headquarters take the safety of our teacher members and the students you teach very seriously. As we take these first steps toward improving school safety, we look forward to broadening collaboration with other community, law enforcement, and District stakeholders.