Larry's wife, Alexus, is a trained teacher who now runs Rolly Pollies gym in North Buffalo. His mother and father were raised on the West Side and attended Buffalo Public Schools. Larry's mother, a retired bank vice president, is a graduate of Lafayette High School and his father is a former manager of the Tops on Niagara Street.
Larry has seen his parents as committed and determined leaders in their work, but always humble and understanding for the struggles of others; from his mother understanding a family crisis of an employee to his father still bagging groceries and pushing carts as the store manager. They led by example and have impressed these values upon Larry.
Larry spent a great deal of his childhood with his late maternal grandparents, who immigrated to the United States from Italy. He was very close with his grandfather and has many great memories of his time with him. However, it was the experience as a young adult of just sitting and exchanging stories with him, that most affected Larry. This taught Larry the great power and healing in telling stories, sharing your struggles, and, having someone genuinely listen to your story, to your struggle. It instilled in Larry the value of listening and understanding others, relationships, and community. As an indication that Larry is living up to this, here are some remarks from a letter of a seventh grade student who sought him out to be an adviser of a new Gay Straight Alliance, last year:
You understand everything we want to stand for and how we wanted everything to change for the better. You understand each way we could fix or change something. Thank you for everything you’ve done to make this year better.
Larry is running for an at-large seat on the Buffalo Board of Education. He has been a parent activist in the district for the past 5 years. He lives in North Buffalo and was one of the founders of a parent group called the Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization (BPTO).
Larry is a proud, involved father of two boys at public school #81 and a baseball coach for North Park Youth Baseball League. He is a school psychologist in a neighboring school district, currently working as an Alternative to Suspension Specialist with middle school youth.
Prior to becoming a school psychologist, Larry worked for Erie County Child and Family Services at Connor’s Children’s Center, a residential home for children with severe emotional and behavioral needs. Larry's experience working here remains one of his most profound, personally and professionally, and determined his career in public education and a mission to advocate for children.
For several years, the BPTO took the lead among parents to push back against the racist and hateful behavior of a particular school board member. Larry helped organize phone calls and letter writing to the Commissioner of State Education, rallies and events, and filed, with NAACP Buffalo, an official appeal to the Commissioner for this board member’s removal.
Last school year, the BPTO organized to change injustices in public transportation for our Buffalo students. Larry aimed to establish more accessible transportation, which centers on learning, enrichment, and safety. The BPTO provided opportunities for parents, students, educators, and the community to make their concerns and recommendations known to the NFTA and district. As a result of the collective voice of many, noteworthy progress was made with revised policies to begin the 2018-19 school year.
Under the “Education Bargain with Students & Parents”, Buffalo Schools are on the rise. Nevertheless, we have much more work to do. Larry has been very involved in public education for a long time, and is ready to take his experience and apply it as board member. He attends all the board meetings, reads all the board meeting packets, and works hard to represent parents. It’s time that we have a strong parent voice on the board.
We need a central registration office that is transparent, accessible and responsive to parents, and provides timely placement determinations.
We need adequate, timely, and safe transportation for all of our students- elementary and secondary, public, private, and charter.
We need safe and inclusive schools which educate the whole child, including their social-emotional needs and mental health.
We need adequate funding for our city schools and a real investment in art, music, libraries, mental health, reading and math specialists, accelerated and advanced placement courses, trauma informed care, restorative practices, culturally and linguistically responsive teaching, and innovative career and technical education and trades.
Moving Buffalo Schools Forward
In Larry’s five years serving as a leader of the BPTO, much has been achieved. The BPTO is active in several different district committees and decision-making bodies, and has hosted 6 Family Nights at the Buffalo Zoo, 2 free Family Nights at the Museum of Science, and a Family Day at the Art Gallery.
In the fall of 2014, the BPTO rose up and pushed back, when a board member made a declaration to “disassemble” our public schools with four schools slated for closure or private takeover. Larry helped pack school board meetings, and rallied in the streets and cold snow, in a tremendous display of solidarity, democracy, and grassroots resistance.
In the fall of 2016, the BPTO successfully organized a campaign with other community partners to adopt a Gender Identity Policy for our transgender and questioning youth in our schools.
In the spring of 2017, with other parent leaders, Larry helped revise the BPS Parent, Family, & Community Involvement Policy, which officially recognized the BPTO as a district-wide parent group. Larry helped establish the Parent Congress, which includes representatives from the BPTO, District Parent Coordinating Council, and the Special Education Parent Advisory Committee, who meet monthly with the Superintendent and serve on several decision-making bodies. He helped achieve a priority to establish a more open and inclusive policy, with opportunity for other parent groups to be recognized and included.
We need to foster relationships between educators, parents, and families, and be sure we are including them in critical decisions involving our schools and students. Our children are better served if our teachers and staff, are valued, supported, and included.
As an at-large board member, Larry pledges to represent all of our schools- from the East Side to the West Side, from North Buffalo to South Buffalo- all of our students, regardless of zip code, race, country of origin, disability, gender identity/orientation, religion, economic status, or primary language.
We have prevailed many battles, but the war on public education still rages. We must move forward and continue the important work to provide a public education that provides quality, access, and opportunity for all. We must keep racism and the exploitation of our public tax dollars and our children for profiteering, away from our Board of Education.
Democracy is a constant process, one which the public has a right and responsibility to participate in, especially with the public education of our children. As a board member, Larry pledges to uphold the democratic principles of public participation, accountability, and transparency, which a public education deserves and requires.
Let’s move Buffalo Schools forward, together!