Nardin community to hold candlelight march

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Nardin community will be hosting a “Light the Way for Nardin” march on Sunday around the school’s neighborhood. The event comes after two other demonstrations by students, parents, and teachers in response to the school’s leadership.

Candles will be distributed shortly before the demonstration, with the march scheduled to start in front of the school on Cleveland Avenue at 7 p.m. Participants will then move to Elmwood Avenue, Ferry Street, and Tudor Place, before winding back to Cleveland Avenue, where they will gather in front of the school and sing Nardin’s alma mater.

News 4 has reached out to the PR firm representing Nardin for comment on the march.

The first demonstration in response to the school’s leadership was a walk-out on April 13. The walk-out came after biology teacher Marilou Bebak was escorted from the school, with students saying they feared a shift in morale would result in more teachers leaving.

After the walk-out, nine members of Nardin’s board called for the resignations of Nardin President Dr. Sandra Betters and Board Chair Tish Van Dyke. Additionally, major donors to the school, including the Keane family — the family behind the school’s Kevin T. Keane Sports Park — said they’d be withholding donations until change in leadership was made.

The school responded by saying the board members went against a third-party review of the school, deeming the board’s response “rogue.”

“The demands of some Board members pressuring others for action before the assessment
report is released is ill-advised and is simply poor governance,” a statement released by the school on April 17 said. “We have no doubt that in their minds, these Board members believe they are acting in the best interest of Nardin.”

The statement continued, saying the nine board members “demonstrate(d) blatant disregard for (the) agreed-upon process and, more importantly, the reputation of the beloved and outstanding learning community that Nardin represents.”

News 4 has also reached out for an update on the third-party review.

Nardin parent Mark DePalma said via email on Sunday that he and other concerned parents do not believe Dr. Betters is an effective leader and said she appears to be incapable inspiring the faculty and staff.

He said though he had no direct knowledge of the situation, he has come to understand that Bebak’s dismissal resulted from an an incident first reported on by the Buffalo News, in which she allegedly told a Black student who had used a slur regarding people with developmental disabilities, “I would never say the ‘N’ word to you, so you should never say the ‘R’ word.”

The second demonstration, a walk-in on April 20, consisted of high school students entering the building in solidarity, many wearing the school color green, after Bebak was allegedly fired.

The school would not comment on the alleged firing, however, Nardin did release a statement regarding student concerns.

“Whenever Nardin receives concerns regarding our students, we handle it with the utmost care, and we uphold our Catholic values of embracing all, and upholding the dignity of all people,” the statement said.

News 4 will provide updates to this story as it develops.

Adam Duke is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of his work here.

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