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School board responds to Paladino lawsuit

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Late Friday afternoon, members of Buffalo's Board of Education responded to accusations from Buffalo developer Carl Paladino asserting the board violated the state's open meetings law by convening in closed-door executive sessions when it chose Dr. Pamela Brown to be the district's new superintendent.

Paladino, a frequent critic of the board, has filed papers in State Supreme Court seeking to block Brown's hiring, as well as her transitional contract that pays her a consulting fee of $800 a day. 

Board member Rosalyn Taylor, who chaired the superintendent search committee, says the board sought community involvement throughout the process through focus groups, stakeholder meetings, and public receptions.

"We did everything we could to make sure we had a very transparent process and that we got as much input from the public as possible. I must say it worked because we received a lot of e-mails, a lot of letters, [and] a lot of public contact from people in the community," said Taylor.

Board member Ralph Hernandez says the district will respect the legal process.  

"We have a tremendous amount of respect for Mr. Paladino and certainly it's his prerogative to make the statements that he feels are appropriate to him. We will respect the lawsuit. Our legal counsel is in consultation as we speak and we're very confident that we'll prevail," Hernandez said.

Paladino has said he believes Brown is not qualified to lead the district, having never served as superintendent in any of her previous posts. He has also suggested that Brown was given preference because she is an African-American female by a board where five of nine members are black women.

Board members Friday praised Brown, a former Philadelphia assistant superintendent and chief academic officer, saying she will being talent and experience to the district.  Brown was elected by a 7-2 vote over interim Schools Superintendent Amber Dixon on June 13 after a long executive session.

The board says it is confident it complied with the open meetings law throughout the selection process.  A hearing on the lawsuit will be held next week.

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