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School Board demands Paladino's resignation

Jonny Moran
The Buffalo School Board voted in front of a packed audience in Common Council chambers to oust Carl Paladino from the board.

The Buffalo School Board has called for Carl Paladino's resignation following disparaging comments he made about President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. 

In a special session Thursday afternoon, the School Board's majority called on the Park District representative to step down.  If he refuses to do so, the board said it will push for his removal. Board members approved a resolution that reads in part:

"Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Buffalo Board of Education demands that Mr. Paladino immediately resign within 24 hours from his position with the Board.  In the event that Mr. Paladino declines to resign within 24 hours, the Board resolves that it shall retain outside legal counsel to file a 306 Petition with NYS Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia to pursue Mr. Paladino’s removal from the Buffalo Board of Education. Recommendations for outside counsel shall be made by the General Counsel."

Sharon Belton Cottman, who represents the Ferry District on the School Board, said Paladino should step down.

"Carl Paladino's ability to responsibly make policy, to guide Buffalo public schools is severely in doubt. And the perception that he can be a fair and objective policymaker is irreparably damaged by this actions. His statements are harmful to the students and I firmly believe that as long as he remains on the board, the entire school district, the city, the Erie-Niagara region, the country, the world is damaged as a result."

Central District member Paulette Woods said the racist comments Paladino made cannot be tolerated.

"This level of hatred for African-Americans should not and cannot set policy for the education of African-American children."

At Large School Board member Patricia Pierce opposed the resolution, but she implored Paladino to apologize.

"I call upon Carl Paladino right now, at this moment to step up to the plate, to express his mistake, to apologize, to learn along with our community that we must, live, work and play together in a unified nation of decent human beings and that all of us matter to each other. If he chooses not to do this, then so be it. But as a board and as a friend, I'm asking him to do it."

Following the special session and vote, State Education Department Spokesperson Emily DeSantis released the following statement as comment on the day's actions:

"We will continue to closely monitor the actions by the Buffalo School Board, the Buffalo Parent-Teacher Organization and others on this matter. Once we receive an application for removal, we will review it as quickly as possible. We continue to review all of our options."

Paladino issued a statement a few hours after the School Board demanded his removal:

"The Board of Education's action today is certainly not an illustration of a profile in courage or leadership," Paladino wrote. "The City of Buffalo Council Members, Legislators, Mayor and County Executive have joined in the chorus of those Board members seeking my removal so as to push back on me to not disclose their culpability in rigging the recent teachers' contract or their complicity in trying to unfairly settle the Board's $450 million lawsuit against Lou Ciminelli for fleecing the citizens and children of Buffalo. It's going to be a very combative year."

Earlier this week, Paladino sent a statement to Artvoice apologizing for his comments in a Dec. 22 edition of the weekly paper. In the publication's survey of various local people, Paladino wished for  the death of President Barack Obama by mad cow disease and for the transformation of First Lady Michelle Obama into a male who would then live with a gorilla in Africa.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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