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Barbara Seals Nevergold

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Barbara Seals Nevergold
Barbara Seals Nevergold.png
Board member, Buffalo Board of Education, At-large
Term ends
Board President
2013 - 2014
Elections and appointments
Last electionMay 6, 2014
First electedMay 6, 2014
Next generalMay 2019
AppointedDecember 28, 2011
Appointed byBuffalo Board of Education
Term limitsN/A
High schoolEast High School
Bachelor'sBuffalo State College
Master'sUniversity at Buffalo
Ph.D.University at Buffalo
OtherLaval University and the University of Dijon
Office website
Barbara Seals Nevergold is an at-large member and the president of the Buffalo school board in New York. She won the general election on May 6, 2014 alongside newcomers Larry Quinn and Patricia B. Pierce against 10 other challengers. She was first appointed to the position on December 28, 2011, by the Buffalo Board of Education.[1]

In addition to winning re-election, Nevergold confronted legal challenges regarding the legitimacy of her seat on the board from fellow board member Carl P. Paladino. Paladino filed two unsuccessful petitions with the New York State Education Department and Commissioner of Education John King arguing that Nevergold's failure to run for re-election in the May 2013 election violated board policies and state law. Following Commissioner King's ruling, Paladino announced that he would appeal to the New York State Supreme Court in his attempt to unseat her, but the court ruled against him.[2] A significant cause for the hostility between Nevergold and Paladino was Nevergold's support of controversial Superintendent Pamela Brown, whom she voted to retain as superintendent in September 2013 in a narrow 5-4 vote.[3]


Barbara Seals Nevergold is a resident of Buffalo, New York. Nevergold graduated from Buffalo Public Schools before earning her B.S. degree in French education from Buffalo State College. She then earned her M.Ed. degrees in French education and counseling education along with her Ph.D. in counseling education from the University at Buffalo. Nevergold also studied French at both Laval University in Canada and the University of Dijon in France. Her career as an educator began with a French teaching position and a guidance counselor position in the Buffalo school system.

She left the school district to serve in several leadership roles in a variety of non-profit organizations. This included an executive director position with the Niagara Frontier Association for Sickle Cell Disease, a vice president position with Children's Services at the Friendship House of Western New York, a chief executive officer position with Planned Parenthood of Buffalo and Erie County, a regional director position with the Berkshire Farm Center and a director position with Student Support Services at the University at Buffalo's Educational Opportunity Center.

Nevergold teaches as an adjunct instructor at Empire State College and formerly taught in the University at Buffalo. In 1999, she helped to found the Uncrowned Queens Institute in order "to promote the collection and dissemination of the individual histories of women, women's organizations and women's collective history; and to teach and educate women on the use of technology to preserve and disseminate their histories." Nevergold serves on the boards of the Graycliff Conservancy, Buffalo Psychiatric Center and the Afro American Historical Association of the Niagara Frontier. She has also served on several other community non-profit boards. Nevergold is an author who has written several books and articles published in New York magazines.[4][5]



See also: Buffalo Public Schools elections (2014)


Barbara Seals Nevergold and newcomers Larry Quinn and Patricia B. Pierce won the three at-large seats against fellow incumbent John Licata and nine other candidates in the general election on May 6, 2014. Challengers Bryon J. McIntyre and Daniel Rockwitz Reynolds were removed from the ballot after they did not meet the petition signature requirements.[6]


Buffalo Public Schools, At-Large General Election, 5-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngLarry Quinn 16.1% 8,806
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngPatricia B. Pierce 14.7% 8,061
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngBarbara Seals Nevergold Incumbent 13.6% 7,449
     Nonpartisan Bernie Tolbert 11.5% 6,298
     Nonpartisan John Licata Incumbent 9% 4,930
     Nonpartisan Samuel P. Davis 7.9% 4,334
     Nonpartisan Sergio Rodriguez 6.3% 3,447
     Nonpartisan Gizelle Stokes 5.6% 3,059
     Nonpartisan Ralph R. Hernandez 5% 2,733
     Nonpartisan Wendy Mistretta 4.4% 2,414
     Nonpartisan Stephon Wright 2.3% 1,242
     Nonpartisan Adrian Harris 1.9% 1,066
     Nonpartisan Stephen Buccilli 1.7% 936
Total Votes 54,775
Source: Erie County, NY - Board of Elections, "Election Results Archive," accessed June 11, 2014


Nevergold reported $3,045.00 in contributions and $651.30 in expenditures to the Erie County Board of Elections, which left her campaign with $2,393.70 on-hand. Nevergold and her husband contributed a total of $600.00 to her own campaign. She also received a contribution of $130.00 from retiring board member Florence Johnson and her husband.[7]


Nevergold received endorsements from the Buffalo Teachers Federation, Citizen Action and Grassroots. She also received endorsements from board members Sharon Belton Cottman, Florence Johnson and Mary Ruth Kapsiak. Former board member Kinzer Pointer also endorsed her.[8]


Nevergold ran unsuccessfully for the North District seat on the Buffalo school board in 1993. She faced two other candidates and received less than a third of the vote.[5]

Campaign themes


In response to a survey published by The Buffalo News, Nevergold answered several questions outlining her campaign themes, preferred education reforms and priorities.

Cite an example of a school program (here or elsewhere) that you think should be replicated in Buffalo:

The Rochester School District has a program to support the integration of refugee children into the school system. Students stay for up to two years of intensive support in the acquisition of English language facility, for example. The program serves grades 4 - 12. Support is offered to parents to help them acquire English, social supports and learn to navigate social institutions to better support their children.

Describe two or three specific actions the district should take to help close the projected $50 million deficit for 2014-15:

The District should continue its advocacy efforts with the State and the City. The City allocates approximately an 8% contribution to the school budget. One way that the City could contribute is to share in the proceeds from the sales of closed school buildings. The District has not successfully negotiated a contract with its two principle unions - teachers and principals - in 9 years. I believe that union leaders want to negotiate a new contract as much as the District. I would advocate moving forward with union negotiations with renewed urgency. Cut costs that do not affect classroom.

List the three most important things you want to accomplish if you are elected:

First priority is to ensure that each child receives an excellent education; a comprehensive program including standardized and customized learning environments; incorporating parental/community engagement, holding staff and Board accountable and maintaining stability. Support the urgency to expand and enhance proven programs that successfully support student achievement, e.g. Universal Pre-K. Second priority is the fiscal health of the District. We have continual and escalating deficits and must find ways to address systemic and categorical funding problems. Third priority, be a voice and a vote to maintain stability. Progress is being achieved under this current administration and would like to see that progress continue.

Evaluate Pamela Brown's performance as superintendent:

I believe that Dr. Brown's pedagogical knowledge and experience in school turnaround are strengths resulting in positive indicators of progress in the District; as well as her persistence and resilience. She has a keen sense of accountability. Though quiet, she's assertive and has the ability to make difficult, unpopular decisions to move the District forward, e.g. reorganization. Accessibility has been an ongoing criticism. Early in her administration, this was an issue but she has made significant change.[9]

The Buffalo News survey, (2014), [8]

What was at stake?

The three at-large seats on the school board were up for election on May 6, 2014. Issues in the race included Superintendent Pamela Brown's future with the district and hostility between board member Carl P. Paladino and Board President Barbara Seals Nevergold. Strife within the school district largely revolved around the possibility of a mayoral takeover, the departure and subsequent rehiring of controversial consultant Mary Guinn and the lack of the necessary legal credentials for two top officials in the district administration. After the May 2014 election resulted in Paladino's faction winning a governing majority on the board, Superintendent Brown announced her intention to resign.[10]


Issues in the election

Superintendent Pamela Brown

Significant divisions arose within the Buffalo Board of Education since the election of former gubernatorial candidate and local businessman Carl P. Paladino in 2013. In that race, Paladino campaigned for the removal of incumbent board members and the dismissal of the district's top administrators, including Superintendent Pamela Brown.[11] Since joining the board, Paladino has continued to call for Superintendent Brown's resignation or firing, stating that she is "obviously incapable."[12][13] In September 2013, the board ruled in a 5-4 decision to keep the superintendent in place.[14] Since Brown supporter and Board President Barbara Seals Nevergold was up for re-election, NPR journalist Mike Desmond suggested that, "[...] the approaching School Board elections will likely determine her future as Buffalo Schools Superintendent."[15] Superintendent Brown announced her intention to resign after her opponents on the board won the governing majority following the election of Larry Quinn and Patricia B. Pierce.[10]

The following table lists the stated position of each school board candidate on keeping Superintendent Brown:[8]

Positions on Superintendent Brown[8]
Candidate Position
Barbara Seals Nevergold Retain
John Licata Terminate
Adrian Harris Terminate
Wendy Mistretta Terminate
Larry Quinn Terminate
Sergio Rodriguez Terminate
Bernie Tolbert[16] Terminate
Stephon Wright Retain
Stephen Buccilli Terminate
Patricia B. Pierce Terminate
Ralph R. Hernandez N/A
Samuel P. Davis Retain
Gizelle Stokes Retain
Board infighting

On October 23, 2013, board member Carl P. Paladino filed an unsuccessful motion to dismiss Board President Barbara Seals Nevergold from her leadership position. He later filed an appeal with the New York State Education Department and Commissioner of Education John King, claiming that she is unfit to meet the responsibilities of the position and stating that she had allowed board meeting participants to attack him verbally.[17] Paladino then filed a second petition with Commissioner King, which argued that Nevergold's position on the board was illegitimate due to her not running for the seat in the May 2013 election after being appointed to the board. Board member John Licata made a successful resolution to hire legal counsel for Nevergold's defense.[18] Local resident Joan Simmons filed a petition with the state agency requesting Paladino's removal from the board on the basis that he is disruptive and prevents the board from carrying out its duties.[19]

On April 4, 2014, Commissioner King rejected both of Paladino's petitions "on procedural grounds" and due to a lack of evidence.[20] However, Commissioner King's ruling on Paladino's second petition left open the possibility that Nevergold violated state law by not running for re-election in the May 2013 election. After hearing the decision, Paladino announced that he would pursue legal action against Nevergold in the New York State Supreme Court.[2] On May 19, 2014, Erie County Supreme Court Judge Tracey A. Bannister rejected Paladino's argument on the grounds that Nevergold was only required by law to run in the first election following her appointment for the type of seat she held, an at-large seat. The 2014 election was the first election for at-large seats following her appointment. Judge Bannister also noted that the statute of limitations for the case had passed and that Paladino did not have the legal right to re-litigate a decision already made by Commissioner King.[21]

Common Core

Buffalo school board members and candidates weighed in with a range of different opinions on the Common Core education reforms implemented in the school district. In October 2013, board member James Sampson wrote an opinion piece for The Buffalo News that defended the reforms and praised both New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Commissioner of Education John King for resisting public pressure to delay or dismantle Common Core standards.[22] Parents in Buffalo and neighboring school districts voiced concerns about both Common Core and policies that require students who opt-out from the program's standardized testing to sit and wait silently during the testing period with no other activities available to them.[23]

Superintendent Pamela Brown provided testimony to the New York State Senate Education Committee on October 16, 2013, to discuss academic performance in Buffalo Public Schools. During this testimony, she called for full implementation of Common Core but requested additional guidance and data resources from the New York State Education Department to ensure effective implementation.[24] In a "listening tour" discussion held at the Buffalo Public Library on March 31, 2014, Superintendent Brown insisted that the district would continue to implement the Common Core standards. She added that the district would not allow students to officially opt-out from testing, but acknowledged that students could still refuse to fill out the standardized tests provided to them.[25]

The following table lists the stated position of each school board candidate on Common Core and the district's implementation of it:[8]

Positions on Common Core
Candidate Position on Common Core Position on implementation
Barbara Seals Nevergold Oppose Inadequate
John Licata Oppose Inadequate
Adrian Harris Oppose Inadequate
Wendy Mistretta Oppose Inadequate
Larry Quinn Support Inadequate
Sergio Rodriguez Support Inadequate
Bernie Tolbert Support Inadequate
Stephon Wright Oppose Inadequate
Stephen Buccilli Support Inadequate
Patricia B. Pierce Support Inadequate
Ralph R. Hernandez N/A N/A
Samuel P. Davis Oppose Inadequate
Gizelle Stokes Support Inadequate

Issues in the district

Mayoral takeover

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown announced in February 2014 that he is considering taking control of Buffalo Public Schools. Brown refrained from taking a position on the issue of mayoral control during his 2013 bid for re-election, but suggested that the district's academic and financial struggles have made it clear that, "[...] the model that exists isn’t working, and people are looking for options and people are looking for hope."[26] Until the 1970s, the Buffalo Board of Education was separated from the school district and appointed by the mayor. In later remarks, Mayor Brown emphasized that he would only pursue mayoral control of the district if the plan received significant community support. Replacing the elected board with an appointed board would require a change in state law by the New York State Legislature, which Mayor Brown has not formally requested.[27]

Guinn hiring

In March 2013, consultant Mary Guinn and her firm, Cross and Joftus, were hired to provide leadership coaching to top district officials and to assist with the implementation of a central office reorganization plan. The initial three-month contract, which was paid with private grant money, also appointed Guinn to the temporary position of interim deputy superintendent. However, the district did not hire a permanent deputy superintendent and instead agreed to a one-year contract with Cross and Joftus at the additional cost of $432,000.[28] Board members questioned the appropriateness of Guinn's contract and involvement with payroll, internal communications and leadership meetings. Guinn's firm cancelled the consulting contract on October 8, 2013, following board efforts to remove her from the position.[29]

During the board's closed session meeting on February 26, 2014, Superintendent Brown recommended that the board hire Guinn to fill the deputy superintendent position. The board voted 5-3 to hire Guinn for a 90-day period, with board member Jason M. McCarthy absent from the meeting.[30] An article from The Buffalo News journalist Tiffany Lankes indicated that Superintendent Brown may have intended since Guinn's October 2013 departure to bring her back to fill the position, despite Brown denying such rumors at the time. Guinn applied with the New York State Education Department for the credentials necessary to fill the position on October 16, 2013, which she received on February 14, 2014. An official with HealthNow, which managed the district's deputy superintendent candidate search, stated that the organization felt "a level of frustration" with the district's involvement in the process and concluded its search after, "[...] it became apparent that the way we had approached the search was not needed."[29]

Following Guinn's appointment, several board members voiced their displeasure with the decision. McCarthy stated that he would have voted against her appointment if he were present at the meeting. He added that he felt Superintendent Brown's unexpected request and the board vote were purposefully conducted in his absence in order to ensure Guinn's appointment. During interviews with The Buffalo News, board members James Sampson and Carl P. Paladino denounced the vote as "disrespectful" and "sinful," respectively.[31]

Uncertified administrators

On March 18, 2014, two Buffalo district administrators hired by Superintendent Brown were revealed to lack the necessary legal credentials to serve in their positions. Curriculum, assessment and instruction chief Yamilette Williams and school leadership chief Faith Morrison Alexander were both hired during the summer of 2013 with only conditional certificates to serve as school principals, not district administrators. District human resources administrator Darren J. Brown acknowledged that his office had failed to ensure that the two officials had obtained their proper certifications and stated that the school district faced legal liability issues as a result.[32]

Superintendent Brown announced on March 20, 2014, that she had put both officials on unpaid leave, but board members Carl P. Paladino and John Licata insisted that neither Williams nor Alexander were actually still employed by the district due to the violation of their contracts. Board President Barbara Seals Nevergold placed the blame for the oversight on the district's human resources department and indicated that she was misled regarding their certifications.[33] On March 25, 2014, Paladino announced that he had located additional district officials who lacked the necessary credentials for their positions at the time of their hiring, including Bennett High School Principal Terry Ross and Education Partnership Organization Superintendent Tamara Branch.[34]

Superintendent Brown attempted to retain Yamilette Williams and Faith Morrison Alexander as interns at an annual salary of $130,000 each, but the school board rejected her proposal and voted unanimously to fire both officials on April 2, 2014. Following the vote, Brown denied knowing that either administrator had lacked the proper credentials for their position, arguing, "At the time they were hired, it was my understanding that whatever they needed to have in order to take those positions, that they had it. It did not come to my attention that they did not have the proper certification until just recently."[35]

About the district

See also: Buffalo Public Schools, New York
Buffalo Public Schools is located in Erie County, New York
Buffalo Public Schools is located in Erie County, New York. The county seat of Erie County is Buffalo. Erie County is home to 919,086 residents, according to the United States Census Bureau.[36] Buffalo is the second-largest school district in New York, serving 32,723 students during the 2011-2012 school year.[37]


Buffalo underperformed in comparison to the rest of New York in terms of higher education achievement in 2012. The United States Census Bureau found that 23.4 percent of Buffalo residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 32.8 percent for New York as a whole. The median household income in Buffalo was $30,502 compared to $57,683 for the state of New York. The poverty rate in Buffalo was 30.1 percent compared to 14.9 percent for the entire state.[38]

Racial Demographics, 2010[38]
Race Buffalo (%) New York (%)
White 50.4 65.7
Black or African American 38.6 15.9
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.8 0.6
Asian 3.2 7.3
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.0 0.0
Two or More Races 3.1 3.0
Hispanic or Latino 10.5 17.6

2013 Party Affiliation, Erie County[39]
Party Registered Voters  % of Total
Democratic 301,873 49.49
Republican 157,704 25.86
Independent 28,996 4.75
Constitution 13,067 2.14
Working Families 3,175 0.52
Green 1,488 0.24
Other 365 0.07
Unaffiliated 103,240 16.93

Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin, not a race. Therefore, the Census allows citizens to report both their race and that they are from a "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin simultaneously. As a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table will exceed 100 percent. Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one or two tenths off from being exactly 100 percent.[40] This Ballotpedia page provides a more detailed explanation of how the Census Bureau handles race and ethnicity in its surveys.

Recent news

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See also

External links

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Additional reading


  1. WBFO 88.7: NPR News & More, "Barbara Seals Nevergold elected to Buffalo Board of Education," December 29, 2011
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Buffalo News, "State denies Paladino’s bid to unseat board president," April 5, 2014
  3. Buffalo Public Schools, "Files and Documents," accessed April 16, 2014
  4. Buffalo Public Schools, "About Us," accessed April 7, 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 The Buffalo News, "Seals-Nevergold will run for full term to School Board," January 13, 2014
  6. The Buffalo News, "Two knocked off Buffalo School Board ballot," April 23, 2014
  7. The Buffalo News, "School board financial disclosures," April 12, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 The Buffalo News, "Meet the candidates," accessed April 29, 2014
  9. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  10. 10.0 10.1 The Buffalo News, "Incoming School Board majority wants search for interim superintendent to begin ‘immediately’," June 3, 2014
  11. WBFO 88.7: NPR News & More, "Paladino to launch major push to remove school board incumbents," January 24, 2013
  12. WBFO 88.7: NPR News & More, "Paladino wins, vows to shake up school district," May 8, 2013
  13. WBFO 88.7: NPR News & More, "Seeking changes, Paladino takes school board seat," July 10, 2013
  14. WBFO 88.7: NPR News & More, "Board votes to keep Superintendent Brown," September 26, 2013
  15. WBFO 88.7: NPR News & More, "Superintendent Brown offers job assessment," March 6, 2014
  16. The Buffalo News, "Used to making tough decisions, board candidate Tolbert reluctantly loses confidence in Buffalo school chief," May 1, 2014
  17. WKBW - ABC 7, "Buffalo Board of Education Member Wants President Nevergold Out," November 9, 2013
  18. WBFO 88.7: NPR News & More, "Buffalo District hires lawyer for school board president," November 21, 2013
  19. WBFO 88.7: NPR News & More, "Paladino faces action seeking his removal from school board," January 16, 2014
  20. The Buffalo News, "Commissioner King's ruling on Paladino's petition to oust Nevergold," April 5, 2014
  21. The Buffalo News, "The written ruling dismissing Paladino's bid to unseat Nevergold," May 20, 2014
  22. The Buffalo News, "Another Voice: Education commissioner has it right on Common Core standards," October 29, 2013
  23. The Buffalo News, "Why should kids just ‘sit and stare’? as parents, school officials debate Common Core testing," March 18, 2014
  24. New York State Senate, "Testimony, Dr. Pamela C. Brown, Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent," October 16, 2013
  25. Time Warner Cable News, "Superintendent says Common Core curriculum not going anywhere," March 31, 2014
  26. The Buffalo News, "Mayor considers taking control of Buffalo school district," February 26, 2014
  27. WBFO 88.7: NPR News & More, "Mayor discusses possible control of Buffalo School District," February 27, 2014
  28. The Buffalo News, "Fate of consultant in Buffalo School Board’s hands as her compensation, authority are questioned," September 24, 2013
  29. 29.0 29.1 The Buffalo News, "Seed sown last fall for Guinn to be rehired by school district, state records show," March 6, 2014
  30. The Buffalo News, "Guinn’s hiring expected to create more divisiveness on School Board," February 27, 2014
  31. The Buffalo News, "Board members call Guinn's appointment "deceptive," "disrespectful" and "sinful"," February 28, 2014
  32. The Buffalo News, "Two top Buffalo school district officials lack state certifications," March 19, 2014
  33. The Buffalo News, "Uncertified Buffalo school administrators no longer employed by district," March 22, 2014
  34. WBFO 88.7: NPR News & More, "Paladino uncovers more school district employees without proper credentials," March 25, 2014
  35. The Buffalo News, "Buffalo School Board votes overwhelmingly to fire 2 top administrators," April 3, 2014
  36. United States Census Bureau, "Erie County, New York," accessed March 26, 2014
  37. National Center for Education Statistics, "ELSI Table Generator," accessed April 22, 2014
  38. 38.0 38.1 United States Census Bureau, "Buffalo (city), New York," accessed March 26, 2014
  39. New York State Board of Elections, "NYS Voter Enrollment by County, Party Affiliation and Status - Voters Registered as of November 01, 2013," accessed March 26, 2014
  40. United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014