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Coalition Calls For Binghamton Superintendent's Removal

By Kerry Longobucco.
Ongoing frustrations with the Binghamton City School District's leadership will come to a boil at Tuesday's school board meeting. Some are calling for the removal of district superintendent Marion Martinez.

"We feel that it's time -- and truly, we're demanding a change in leadership," B.J. Kozel said.

Kozel is part of the Concerned Parents Coalition -- a group formed as members say problems continued to pile up within the district.

"Two of our schools are among the lowest performing in the state. Safety is one of the biggest things," Kozel said.

Kozel says the group looked to administrators for answers -- but were met with silence.

"We wanted it to be behind close doors, we wanted it to be respectful," Kozel said. "They've ignored us."

Fed up with the district's inaction, the group began an online petition demanding Martinez's removal. So far, it's garnered more than 660 signatures.

Others are outraged by what they call excessive suspensions and declining graduation rates.

"What we're trying to do, is to get the binghamton city school district to implement policies that keep kids in school," Larry Parham, of C.A.R.E.S. (Community Advocates Restoring Education Standards), said. "Because we know that suspensions lead to the school to prison pipeline."

"They're going to end up in jail, or they're going to end up dead. There's nothing else to it," Luis Masso, a concerned parent, said. "I want these kids to have a better future -- to stay in school and get educated."

But some say firing the superintendent would only be a temporary solution to a long-lasting problem.

"The problems that we're seeing now are not new problems. They pre-dated her, and they will be here when she leaves," Dr. Denise Yull, of C.A.R.E.S., said.

The following is a response from Dr. Martinez:

"The Board of Education hired me in January 2013 as the district’s
change agent, specifically to change the culture of the district so as to
improve student performance. That has been and remains my primary
goal. Change designed to improve student performance required
instituting systems, practices and procedures that had not been
adequately addressed. We are in the midst of transitioning to an
accountable educational system. It takes time to see quantitative
results and cultural change towards accountability. As the systems have
begun taking root, changes and results can be seen at the younger
grade levels in the district.

Graduation rates are positioned to improve as we continue to
implement research based strategies at the younger levels along with
changes in attendance and grading policies, scheduling, and student
engagement, all of which we have been implemented or
recommended over the course of my administration.
I plan to continue to work tirelessly with all, even those resistive to
change, so we can institutionalize an educational system that ensures
our students complete their Binghamton education prepared to
compete in employment and college."