Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

Is Sykes' resignation due to poor performance or politics?

Now that's a question hard to answer directly. Certainly, it's not like Superintendent Pamela Brown issued a press release saying, "Hey, I made Sykes resign and here's why."

According to board member Carl Paladino, Debra S. Sykes was pushed out of the district because she recently inquired with an HR manager about the status of her harassment complaint against the district's former (and controversial) consultant Mary Guinn. Since Brown has expressed an interest in bringing Guinn back to the school district in some form, he said Sykes paid the price for pursuing her harassment complaint.

But not everyone agrees with that explanation.

Some board members have been critical of Sykes for her work on School Improvement Grant applications that have been repeatedly rejected by the state, jeopardizing millions in federal aid. (Brown has also taken heat for this.) Sykes has also overseen the submission of school improvement plans that are required by the state. Those plans have been criticized in recent weeks by parent activists as having been submitted without sufficient parent input.

But as to why Sykes was apparently forced to resign on Friday, the understandable speculation is that it  was prompted by the meeting Brown had with state officials on Thursday about the serious instructional problems at Bennett, Lafayette and MLK.

Despite the district's issues related to submitting acceptable school turnaround plans, Sykes remained part of Brown's Executive Cabinet after the central office reorganization. She did not receive a raise, but neither was she demoted (unlike the chief of staff, head of operations and general counsel) even though all administrators were required to reapply for their jobs earlier this year.

Clearly, Sykes had Brown's support at one point. Also clear is that fact that Sykes, who was previously the supervisor for math instruction in Buffalo, believes she's been mistreated by the district after more than 30 years of dedicated service.

Below is the resignation letter Sykes submitted to Brown on Friday.

-- Sandra Tan

 

Debra Sykes resignation letter

 

comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement

About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee | [email protected]


Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes | [email protected]


Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone | [email protected]


Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB | [email protected]

Subscribe

Advertisement